Standard & Poor's yesterday said it had revoked the credit rating of Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group (DHCOG) after downgrading it from "BB plus" to "B", or five levels below junk bond status, because of a lack of information about the group. But the Dubai Government company responsible for Dubai's Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Residence said the ratings agency was wrong. DHCOG issued a statement soon after the downgrade was made public that said it was responsible for ending the relationship with S&P.
The Dubai company also criticised the agency's "lack of understanding of DHCOG's business, its operations and relationship with the Government of Dubai". DHCOG is a property and hospitality subsidiary of Dubai Holding, a conglomerate closely held by the Government. It owns the property firms Dubai Properties Group, Sama Dubai and Tatweer, as well as Jumeirah Group, a hospitality firm that developed the Burj Al Arab as well as resorts from Argentina to Thailand.
It also owns TECOM Investments, which operates Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City, among other free zones. Credit ratings are a measure of financial stability and a gauge of the risk of default on debt. Lower ratings generally translate into higher interest rates on borrowings and make it more difficult to entice investors. The downgrade at DHCOG reflected "weaker-than-anticipated cash flow generation by DHCOG," said Pierre Georges, an S&P analyst.
"We subsequently withdrew the rating due to what we consider to be inadequate timeliness of information and insufficient documentation provided by DHCOG to maintain our surveillance," an S&P statement said. The ratings agency did not elaborate on the nature of the information it was lacking from DHCOG. But DHCOG defended itself and pledged to "work closely with other rating agencies and directly with investors in full transparency".
"Although DHCOG has been engaging with S&P and sharing adequate information frequently and in a transparent manner, S&P has, nevertheless, issued inaccurate statements coupled with factual errors that are misleading," DHCOG said, adding that it "disagrees" with the S&P report. The DHCOG rating cut follows a series of downgrades of Dubai Government-owned firms and their subsidiaries by international ratings firms. S&P last revised DHCOG's ratings in November after Dubai World, a separate Government conglomerate, announced that it would seek a standstill agreement with creditors and restructure US$22 billion (Dh80.8bn) of debt.
Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service, the other two major ratings firms, have also downgraded DHCOG numerous times in the past year, but neither has withdrawn its ratings. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org