UAE’s Al Jaber Group close to $1.6bn debt restructuring

Al Jaber’s outlook has been boosted by expected awards of new construction projects in both Abu Dhabi, above, and Dubai. (Reuters)
Updated 01 February 2018

UAE’s Al Jaber Group close to $1.6bn debt restructuring

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi-based Al Jaber Group expects to seal a deal to restructure around 5.75 billion dirhams ($1.6 billion) in debt this month, a source at the company and other sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Although the conglomerate, which was founded by the Al-Jaber family in 1970, has struggled since a downturn in construction hit the UAE after the global financial crisis, its outlook for 2018 onwards is positive, the company source told Reuters.
Al Jaber’s outlook has been boosted by expected wins of new construction projects in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
“We have concluded all commercial terms of the new deal and are about to sign with all the banks to receive 100 percent agreement imminently,” the company source said, adding that 97.5 percent of creditors had agreed so far.
Al Jaber’s debt is mostly held by local and international banks, although some hedge funds and other non-bank financial institutions also feature among the creditor group, sources familiar with the matter said.
Since completing a $4.5 billion debt restructuring in June 2014, Al Jaber, best known as a contractor but with interests in other sectors, has taken steps to sell non-core assets, including its 80 percent stake in construction joint venture ALEC to Investment Corporation of Dubai last year.
Such sales have helped to cut debt, with the reduction also boosted by increases in revenue, the sources said.
Under the new plan, the maturity of the debt will be extended by seven years to Sept. 30, 2024, with the company also required to continue to reduce it via quarterly repayments and further asset sales, the sources said.
It also includes a reduction in the interest rate on the debt and the removal of “payment in kind” accrued interest, while quarterly amortization payments will also be cut from March 2019, the company source said.
Al Jaber’s problems started in the mid-2000s when it borrowed to fund its drive to expand outside of its core business of construction.
The weight of the debt and a slowdown in the local market pushed it to begin talks with creditors in 2011. But the 2014 restructuring failed to ease Al Jaber’s troubles and in March 2016 it missed a repayment.
 


Pakistan witnesses significant rise in digital banking between July and September — central bank

Updated 03 December 2020

Pakistan witnesses significant rise in digital banking between July and September — central bank

  • Growth in digital payments reflects changing consumer preferences amid the coronavirus pandemic, says State Bank of Pakistan
  • Mobile phone banking users increased by 41 percent while the number people availing internet banking option reached 4.3 million

KARACHI: Digital banking has acquired increasing popularity in Pakistan since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, said the central bank on Thursday, adding that the country had witnessed 253.7 million electronic transactions worth Rs19 trillion during the first quarter of the current fiscal year.
"The most promising uptake was seen in internet banking and mobile banking transactions as the number of registered mobile phone banking users reached 8.9 million showing an increase of 41% over Q1-FY20 and the number of internet users touched 4.3 million with a growth of 26% over the same period," the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said in its Quarterly Payment System Review (QPSR) for the first quarter between July and September 2020.
During this period, mobile banking transactions increased to 36.4 million or Rs908.7 billion. This implied an increase of 139 percent in terms of volume and 211 percent in terms of value when compared with the same period last year.
Similarly, internet banking transactions increased to 18.9 million or Rs1.1 trillion, registering a growth of 55 percent in volume and 89 percent in value.
"The digital payment transactions in Pakistan have increased significantly largely due to the impact of measures taken by the SBP that created incentives for customers," the central bank said in a statement. "Growth in digital payment infrastructure as well as emergence of new payment aggregators have also been a contributing factor in this increase. Moreover, it also reflects the changes in consumer preferences for digital transactions amid the COVID-19 situation."
The country's total payment transactions increased by 23 percent in volume and eight percent in value when compared to the previous quarter, according to the report.
E-banking transactions comprise real-time online branches transactions, ATM transactions, internet banking transactions, mobile phone banking transactions, e-commerce, and interactive voice response banking.
Another major avenue of e-banking transactions is through points of sale, whereby people make transactions using credit or debit cards for shopping purposes.