Transfer of ownership of Nakheel and Limitless — the two real estate developers of Dubai World — to the Government of Dubai is currently in an advanced stage as agreements setting out the terms for the separation of the two entities, operationally and financially, from Dubai World had been signed, it was announced yesterday.
"Legal ownership will be transferred to the Government of Dubai upon completion of Nakheel and Limitless's financial restructuring," Dubai World said in a statement yesterday.
The company, which in November 2009 sought a standstill on $25 billion (Dh91 billion) of its $59 billion debts and liabilities, yesterday said it has promoted Andy Watson, CEO of Dubai World's investment arm Istithmar, as the company's managing director, and Junaid Rahimullah as chief financial officer, to boost management efficiency.
Dubai World's board, chaired by Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, has appointed them to the team that oversees the day to day running of the company. Rahimullah was formerly director of Group Corporate Finance for Dubai World.
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"The appointments and the final documentation of the financial restructuring arrangements, which was completed June 29, 2011, conclude the restructuring process begun early in 2010," the statement said.
Property heavyweight Nakheel, which is being bailed out by the Dubai Government, has built the Palm Jumeirah — a palm tree-shaped man-made island cluster that hosts the Atlantis hotel as the centrepiece of its attractions. The Dubai Government has already injected more than Dh9 billion to reduce its massive debt pile.
"The legal separation will happen upon finalising the Nakheel restructuring. This is another positive step that will enable Nakheel to operate its business of real estate development in a more focused and an independent manner," a Nakheel spokesperson said.
Shaikh Ahmad said: "With the appointment of two senior and experienced managers to the Management Committee, and with the restructuring process behind it, Dubai World and its portfolio of companies are well positioned to build on the very real value of its businesses and continue to grow to the benefit of the company, Dubai and the UAE."
Limitless officials declined to comment on the transfer of ownership.
Dubai World board member and chairman of the Management Committee, Ahmad Humaid Al Tayer, commented: "The company is now on a solid financial footing and is focused on strengthening and increasing the value of its assets, which have seen steady overall improvement this year."
Transfer of ownership of the two developers will reduce pressure on Dubai World, which analysts say will help it to rebuild its books for fundraising if need be. "With liquidity coming back in the market, this will help Dubai World tap the bond market that will help the conglomerate," said an analyst, requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, Nakheel said it has received acceptance from 100 per cent of the banks and the required majority of its trade creditors giving their consent to the Nakheel restructuring plan.
"This is a major milestone for Nakheel that commenced its debt restructuring in early 2010 owing approximately $13 billion to its financial and trade creditors," a Nakheel spokesperson said.
The acceptance of the restructuring plan is seen as a sign of recognition among the creditors and the confidence they have in the ability of the Government of Dubai and that of the company to meet their commitments to continue contributing to the growth and economic wellbeing of Dubai and the UAE.
"Nakheel is now on course to formally complete its restructuring which shall culminate with the issuance of the sukuk to its trade creditors allowing Nakheel to focus on its core business of a real estate developer delivering desirable communities in Dubai," the spokesperson said.