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Abu Dhabi’s Aldar To Cut Debt By Over A Third Within Two Years

Abu Dhabi’s Aldar To Cut Debt By Over A Third Within Two Years

The reduction is down to Aldar using some of the money due from Abu Dhabi’s government to repay debt, its CFO said.

Abu Dhabi’s Aldar Properties will cut its debts by more than a third over the next two years, its chief financial officer said on Monday, extending a trend that has already led to credit agencies upgrading their ratings on the company.

Aldar, 34 per cent-owned by Abu Dhabi government fund Mubadala Development Co, had Dhs9.6 billion ($2.6 billion) of debt as of Sept. 30 – down from Dhs13.8 billion at the end of 2013 and set to fall to Dhs6 billion over the next two years.

The reduction is down to Aldar, which merged with state-backed Sorouh Real Estate in June 2013 and which ranks as the emirate’s largest developer, using some of the money due from Abu Dhabi’s government to repay debt, Chief Financial Officer Greg Fewer told Reuters.

As of Sept. 30, the builder of Abu Dhabi’s Formula One motor racing circuit was due Dhs6.4 billion from the government over the following three years. It does not have any immediate plans to refinance existing borrowing.

“We have an ongoing programme of receivables from the government who have purchased land and (are) reimbursing us for infrastructure we have developed on their behalf,” said Fewer in a phone interview.

“Those agreements create this very visible and reliable stream of cash flows from the government that drive our strategy, which is to deleverage.”

Standard & Poor’s on Monday raised its credit rating on Aldar to “BBB-/A-3”, or investment grade, while in November Moody’s took a similar ratings action on the company.

Both agencies, which have “stable” outlooks on the company, based their upgrades on Aldar’s debt reduction plans.

“We anticipate Aldar Properties will improve its financial risk profile over the next 12 months,” S&P wrote in a note. “The rating upgrade reflects our positive view on the ongoing support from the Abu Dhabi government for Aldar.”

Fewer said the upgrades would improve Aldar’s financial flexibility.

“We’re net paying off debt, but that said there’s still ample room to optimise and refinance that core level of Dhs6 billion at any time,” said Fewer.

“The investment grade ratings keep the bond and the bank markets open to us, we’re not seeking to issue anything at this time, but we’re constantly reviewing the market and will be opportunistic when it comes to reducing our cost of debt.”

Aldar last month posted a 41 per cent rise in third-quarter net profit to Dhs584 million ($159 million).

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