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Dubai's debt could be as much as $170 bn: report

AFP/ PTI  |  Dubai 

The total debt of cash-strapped Dubai could be as much as $170 billion, much higher than earlier reported, according to a report by regional

"The total debt held by could well be in the range of $130-170 billion," the bank said in its 2010 UAE Yearbook, a copy of which was received by AFP today.

is a term used to refer to the Dubai government and its government-related entities.

Dubai shook world markets in November when it said it wanted to request a freeze on debt repayments by its largest and most-indebted conglomerate, Dubai World.

At the time, Dubai's total debt, including that of its state firms, was reportedly $80 billion, with Dubai World owing $59 billion.

EFG Hermes said it estimated Dubai Inc's capital market debt, including bonds and syndicated loans, to have risen to $96.6 billion in 2009, including funds raised by the government to meet debt obligations.

But it pointed to upside risks, which could take the total debt to $170 billion, highlighting a lack of data on bilateral loans between and banks.

"Bilateral lending... is a bigger concern to us since the scale of lending could be very large and data are practically non-existent," the bank said.

It estimated that the local Emirates NBD bank alone has roughly $24 billion in bilateral loans to

It also warned that there could be some capital market debt that is unaccounted for.

Meanwhile, said voluntary restructurings of Dubai Inc's debt are likely, as around 75 per cent of Dubai Inc's debt, which falls due in 2010-2011, is from syndicated loans.

"The creditors involved are a limited number of banks, which will most likely take a relationship-based, long-term view of these liabilities. Therefore, we expect a high degree of voluntary restructuring," it said.

Last month, international fears loomed over Dubai's ability to repay maturing Islamic bonds worth $4.1 billion owed by Dubai World's property arm, Nakheel, when they were due on December 14.

But the payment was made thanks to last-minute financial aid extended by oil-rich Abu Dhabi.

Dubai World has already started negotiations with its creditors to restructure the debt of its troubled subsidiaries, amounting to $22 billion.

Abu Dhabi has so far pledged $10 billion to help fellow emirate Dubai sort out the debt problems of its firms, in addition to $10 billion made available by the Abu Dhabi-based central bank of the United Arab Emirates.

First Published: Tue, January 19 2010. 22:28 IST
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