A Hong Kong-based distressed debt firm, founded by ex-Deutsche Bank veterans, has approached trade creditors of Dubai's troubled property firm Nakheel with an aim to taking the claims off their hands, a document seen by Reuters showed.
The move by SC Lowy Financial, a distressed debt investment firm set up by Deutsche veterans Michel Lowy and Soo Cheon Lee in 2009, is the first clear sign that distressed players are circling Nakheel's $10.9bn debt restructuring.
"We are reaching out to all trade creditors/vendors of Nakheel with the view of investing in their trade claims," SC Lowy said in an emailed document to one of the trade creditors, which was obtained by Reuters.
"Our firm is able to provide trade creditors with an option for an exit rather than waiting on the outcome of the insolvency process."
The firm is asking trade creditors to submit their proof of claims so that it can be reviewed for details, the document said.
Nakheel, builder of man-made palm-shaped islands, was at the centre of Dubai's debt crisis in 2009 after a property bust in the Gulf Arab emirate. A Nakheel spokeswoman said the firm had not been approached about the matter.
The developer, which ran a parallel restructuring process to parent firm Dubai World, has offered trade creditors repayment of 40 percent cash and the remaining 60 percent in the form of an Islamic bond, or sukuk.
Once its restructuring is complete, Nakheel will be owned by the Dubai government.
The sukuk was expected to be issued by the end of the first half and has already being offered at a 20 percent discount in the secondary market by some trade creditors, signalling their preference to cash out rather than wait for maturity.
SC Lowy was formed in 2009 as a boutique investment bank to specialise in distressed and illiquid investments.
Distressed debt investors normally buy debt of troubled companies at a discount and aim to make money by restructuring their operations and liquidating the debt at par.
Such deals are rare in the Gulf Arab region, where intricate laws and the absence of a level-playing field has kept international distressed debt managers away.
In March, Essdar Capital, an Abu Dhabi-backed firm, sold its bond investments in the troubled Blue City project to an Oman government-controlled fund, capping the completion of a rare distressed-debt deal in the Gulf.
Lowy and Lee led Deutsche Bank's Asian distressed products group until March 2009 when they broke away to start their own 14-member outfit. SC Lowy was not immediately available for comment.
From / Arabian Business