UAE’s Al Jaber Group close to $1.6bn debt restructuring

Al Jaber’s outlook has been boosted by expected awards of new construction projects in both Abu Dhabi, above, and Dubai. (Reuters)
Updated 01 February 2018

UAE’s Al Jaber Group close to $1.6bn debt restructuring

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi-based Al Jaber Group expects to seal a deal to restructure around 5.75 billion dirhams ($1.6 billion) in debt this month, a source at the company and other sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Although the conglomerate, which was founded by the Al-Jaber family in 1970, has struggled since a downturn in construction hit the UAE after the global financial crisis, its outlook for 2018 onwards is positive, the company source told Reuters.
Al Jaber’s outlook has been boosted by expected wins of new construction projects in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
“We have concluded all commercial terms of the new deal and are about to sign with all the banks to receive 100 percent agreement imminently,” the company source said, adding that 97.5 percent of creditors had agreed so far.
Al Jaber’s debt is mostly held by local and international banks, although some hedge funds and other non-bank financial institutions also feature among the creditor group, sources familiar with the matter said.
Since completing a $4.5 billion debt restructuring in June 2014, Al Jaber, best known as a contractor but with interests in other sectors, has taken steps to sell non-core assets, including its 80 percent stake in construction joint venture ALEC to Investment Corporation of Dubai last year.
Such sales have helped to cut debt, with the reduction also boosted by increases in revenue, the sources said.
Under the new plan, the maturity of the debt will be extended by seven years to Sept. 30, 2024, with the company also required to continue to reduce it via quarterly repayments and further asset sales, the sources said.
It also includes a reduction in the interest rate on the debt and the removal of “payment in kind” accrued interest, while quarterly amortization payments will also be cut from March 2019, the company source said.
Al Jaber’s problems started in the mid-2000s when it borrowed to fund its drive to expand outside of its core business of construction.
The weight of the debt and a slowdown in the local market pushed it to begin talks with creditors in 2011. But the 2014 restructuring failed to ease Al Jaber’s troubles and in March 2016 it missed a repayment.
 


Qatar Airways expects to keep Airbus A380s parked for years

Updated 19 October 2020

Qatar Airways expects to keep Airbus A380s parked for years

  • State-owned airline parked its 10 A380s due to the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis on travel demand
  • Qatar Airways boss Akbar Al-Baker criticizes rivals operating the A380 as ‘foolish’

DUBAI: Qatar Airways does not expect to use its Airbus A380s for at least the next two years, its chief executive said on Monday, longer than a previous projection for the superjumbos to possibly return to service in 2021.
The state-owned airline has parked its 10 A380s due to the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis on travel demand.
“We don’t think we are going to operate our A380s for at least the next couple of years,” Akbar Al-Baker told an online conference.
He had said in June the jets would remain parked until at least the middle of next year. The Gulf carrier plans to start retiring its A380s from 2024 when its oldest superjumbo reaches ten years of service.
The A380s would return once the airline saw the growth rate of 2019, before the pandemic struck, Baker said.
The 100 destinations to which the airline is currently flying is 25 fewer than planned due to a new wave of infections in Europe and travel restrictions, he said.
Baker criticized rivals operating the A380 as “foolish,” saying there was insufficient demand and so prices would be driven down.
Air France retired its A380s this year, while British Airways and Qantas retired their Boeing 747s as the crisis sent air travel into free fall.
Gulf carrier Etihad Airways is mulling whether its parked A380 fleet will ever return, while Emirates, the largest superjumbo operator, has resumed some services with the jet.