Amlak reaches deal in $2.7bn debt and hopes to resume share trading

Under the deal, Amlak said it would make an initial repayment of Dh2 billion “shortly”, with the balance repaid over 12 years.

Amlak would repay financial support from the UAE Government over the next six years. Sammy Dallal / The National
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Amlak Finance, the Dubai-based Sharia-compliant mortgage lender, has reached an agreement with its creditors in a deal to restructure debts that have hung over the UAE mortgage market since the height of the global financial crisis six years ago.

Under the auspices of the UAE federal committee set up to oversee the restructuring, Amlak yesterday announced that it had secured unanimous approval from 28 creditors over roughly $2.7bn of debt and that it hoped to resume trading in its shares on the Dubai Financial Market — halted in November 2008 — next year.

Under the deal, the company said it would make an initial repayment of Dh2bn “shortly”, with the balance repaid over 12 years. Amlak also said that it would repay financial support from the UAE Government over the next six years.

“We are very pleased that Amlak’s financiers have accepted the restructuring proposal,” said Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy and the chairman of the “committee to assess the condition of some public shareholding companies”.

“In close collaboration with Amlak’s management, the committee has led the discussions and negotiations with the financiers over the last two years, ultimately achieving this amicable restructuring solution,” he said.

“The committee expects the restructuring to be completed and fully implemented in 2014, allowing Amlak’s shares to be readmitted for trading on the DFM in early 2015. The success of Amlak’s restructuring demonstrates the Government’s commitment to support the UAE’s financial system and its economy and to protect the public and commercial investors.”

The deal, which needs the approval of a general meeting of Amlak shareholders including the 45 per cent shareholder Emaar Properties, will close a chapter on one of the UAE’s most intractable financial problems.

Amlak was an immediate casualty of the credit crunch in 2008 when it was unable to tap global credit markets to service its mortgage business. Protracted negotiations to merge Amlak with its rival mortgage lender Tamweel were finally aborted when the latter was taken over by Dubai Islamic Bank.

The new deal could also involve a short-term debt-for-equity swap on the part of some creditors, though few details were given.

“The deal has been structured so that financiers will swap approximately Dh1.4 billion of their original debt to a convertible instrument, which is to be fully redeemed over the next few years from Amlak’s real estate assets value growth monetisation,” the company said.

Arif Alharmi, Amlak’s chief executive, said: “We would like to thank the UAE Government and the committee and our financiers for their support and confidence in Amlak. We will be working closely with all our stakeholders over the next few months to implement the restructuring in order to return to market, and we look forward to providing innovative products and improved services to our existing and future customers.”

Since the shares were suspended, Amlak has disposed of assets, cut back costs and taken action against debtors. Against the background of a rapidly improving Dubai property market, it began to offer mortgage facilities again earlier this year.

fkane@thenational.ae

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