Bankers from Rothschild have been appointed to help restructure Dubai World with a mandate to dispose of some of the stricken conglomerate's famous assets.
By Louise Armitstead and Richard Spencer in Dubai
November 28, 2009
Paul Reynolds, head of Rothschild's advisory operations in the Middle East, was this week asked to work for the Dubai government's chief restructuring officer alongside Aidan Birkett of Deloitte, who was appointed on Wednesday.
The team is tasked with assessing the group's assets, which is likely to result in a large scale sell-off of assets as varied as the QE2 cruise liner; Turnberry, the golf course that hosted this year's Open Championship; and a raft of properties.
A spokesman for the Dubai department of finance confirmed that all options and asset sales would be considered, except for the DP World subsidiary that bought P&O, the British ports company. "I'm sure all of the assets of Dubai World will be reviewed," he said. "The QE2 is one of them. It's part of the restructuring process, though it's too early to say whether there's any sale in mind."
The neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi is seen as one of the main buyers of Dubai's assets. Last year when rumours about Dubai's debt problems first started, sources said Abu Dhabi had offered to buy Emirates but Dubai had so far refused to part with its flagship carrier.
Abu Dhabi is also said to be interested in Emaar, the property company that owns the Burj Dubai skyscraper, the Dubai Mall shopping centre, and Dubal, Dubai's aluminium company.
However, the assets in Dubai World are more likely to be sold first. The group's biggest problem area is thought to be Nakheel, its property arm that owns the Palms, the ambitious man-made islands. Nakheel also has two hotel chains, one of which owns the Turnberry Hotel.
Dubai World's venture capital arm, Istithmar, owns stakes in global assets including Barneys, the New York department store; Cirque du Soleil, the South African entrepreneur Sol Kerzner's hotel chain; and Standard Chartered bank. The company has also bought into MGM Mirage, the Las Vegas gambling operation – even though gambling is banned in Dubai – and Troon Golf.
London properties include Adelphi on the Strand and the Grand Buildings in Trafalgar Square.
Rothschild was one of five banks working in recent months to help Dubai World meet its debt obligations. Deutsche Bank was the other lead adviser and they were supported by Citibank, JP Morgan and the Dubai Islamic Bank. When the standstill decision was taken on Wednesday, all the banks were stood down as the mandate had changed.
Rothschild and Deloittes declined to comment.