DIFC Investments, the investment arm of the company running Dubai’s financial free zone, is close to securing a $1 billion loan from four banks to help refinance an upcoming Islamic bond maturity, a banking source familiar with the matter has said.
Emirates NBD, Dubai’s largest lender, and Standard Chartered will contribute an equal amount into the deal, while Noor Islamic Bank and Dubai Islamic Bank, also join the deal but with a smaller commitment.
The loan will help refinance a $1.25 billion sukuk maturing in June, and will be in place in time for the redemption date.
“It’s in the documentation phase,” the source, who requested anonymity, said. “There will be a syndication in due course but they want to deal with the sukuk first.”
Mohammed al-Shaibani, chief executive of the Investment Corporation of Dubai and deputy chairman of Dubai’s Supreme Fiscal Committee, said on Monday that the loan was close to completion.
“There is a … facility maturing this year with respect to DIFCI, which is, as we speak, being concluded,” Shaibani told Reuters in Mumbai.
The presence of three Dubai-based bodies may raise compliance issues on new central bank rules limiting bank lending to sovereign and state-linked entities.
“We are all comfortable with what we are taking on but with the new central bank rules on GREs, we will want to pass on some of our exposures accordingly.”
In April, the UAE central bank introduced new caps for bank loans made to local governments and their entities in the first such change in nearly two decades. The International Monetary Fund said the move would help contain banks’ risks from GREs.
DIFC Investments’ sukuk obligation has been highlighted by analysts as one of the most challenging refinancings in the Gulf Arab region this year, given the size of the maturity and the firm’s limited cash position.
Earlier this month, the company said it was “committed” to the sukuk repayment and was in final talks with banks and management for a bank financing agreement.