Dubai bank goes after debt-laden Al Jaber’s land in finance hub

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Dubai’s biggest bank is going after a plot of land in the city’s financial hub that belongs to debt-laden Al Jaber Group.

Emirates NBD PJSC is seeking to seize or sell the undeveloped land in the Dubai International Financial Centre after becoming frustrated by the pace of assets sales under Al Jaber’s debt restructuring, according to people familiar with the matter and an enforcement letter sent by the bank.

The land – worth about $70 million – was used as collateral to secure a loan for Chairman Obaid Khaleefa Al Jaber Al Marri, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Al Rihab Real Estate Co. LLC, a unit of Al Jaber, defaulted on a mortgage related to the land, they said.

Emirates NBD is among creditors seeking to take action against Al Jaber and recover funds after two rounds of debt restructuring, the people said. Al Jaber last year agreed to raise about $445 million from asset sales by the end of the year, while members of the Al Jaber family and other shareholders pledged to raise as much as $210 million by selling personal assets. Little progress has been made on these sales, the people said.

Family-owned Al Jaber, which borrowed heavily to expand in construction, engineering and shipping, is one of several businesses in the United Arab Emirates that ran into trouble after the 2008 financial crisis. It signed a pact to alter the terms on about $4 billion of debt in 2014 and last year agreed to restructure roughly $1.5 billion.

Creditors – which include hedge funds and local banks – are now focusing on a 4.5 billion-dirham ($1.2 billion) loan the chairman got as part of the first restructuring, the people said. The facility was a related-party transaction and bears a personal liability to the shareholder, they said.

Lenders including Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC and First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC have already forced the sale of the Shangri-La hotel in Dubai and are seeking to do the same for the Shangri-La hotel in Abu Dhabi, the people said.

Representatives for Emirates NBD, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and First Abu Dhabi Bank declined to comment. Representatives for Al Jaber and the DIFC didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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