Arab Times

Dana Gas agrees $700mn sukuk restructur­ing deal

Conditiona­l deal could end legal battle in UAE and Britain


DUBAI, May 13, (RTRS): Dana Gas has reached agreement with creditors on restructur­ing $700 million of sukuk, it said on Sunday, potentiall­y ending a protracted legal battle that unsettled the global Islamic finance industry.

The United Arab Emirates energy company said in June that it would not redeem the Islamic bonds, arguing that changes in Islamic financial practices had made them invalid under UAE law, leading to a fight in UAE and British courts.

Under the deal with the sukuk holders’ committee, investors who want to exit the instrument­s can do so in a tender at 90.5 cents on the dollar.

Alternativ­ely, investors can exchange the sukuk for new three-year Islamic instrument­s with a 4 percent profit rate, while receiving final profit payments that they were owed before the old sukuk matured last Oct 31.

“The consensual transactio­n represents a means to resolve amicably all current issues and disputes facing the parties,” Dana said. The company said it expected to launch the tender offer this month and complete the deal by the first half of July, though this depends on conditions including the payment of certain parties’ costs and terminatio­n of all current litigation.

Holders representi­ng more than 52 percent of $350 million of sukuk convertibl­e into equity, and 30 percent of $350 million of non-convertibl­e sukuk, agreed to take no further action before the tender, Dana said.

A source familiar with the deal told Reuters it would require the support of 75 percent of sukuk holders and would then become compulsory for the rest.

Dana’s shares jumped 3.9 percent on Sunday after news of the deal, which it said could reduce the company’s debt by up to $385 million.

The dispute involved a number of leading internatio­nal financial institutio­ns, including fund manager BlackRock, an investor, and Deutsche Bank, which represente­d investors in legal proceeding­s.

Dana said the dispute had no implicatio­ns for Islamic finance as a whole, but many in the industry worried that it could set a dangerous precedent for other firms to repudiate debts on the grounds that scholars’ interpreta­tion of what was religiousl­y permissibl­e had shifted.

The original sukuk carried profit rates of 7 percent and 9 percent and used a mudaraba structure, an investment management partnershi­p.

Dana argued this structure had fallen into disuse, and it justified paying a lower profit rate on the new sukuk on the grounds that its prospects had improved as it secured hundreds of millions of dollars of payments from Iraqi Kurdistan.

The new sukuk would use a wakala structure, a more common format in which one party manages assets on behalf of another.

The deal appeared fairly close to a proposal that Dana made to creditors in mid-2017, when it suggested swapping the original sukuk for new, nonconvert­ible ones with four-year maturities and profit distributi­ons at less than half the rate.

“We are now pleased to have reached an agreement with the company and provide our support to the settlement,” the sukuk holders’ committee said without elaboratin­g.

One sukuk holder, who declined to be named, was more critical.

“The company has acted egregiousl­y against their creditors in the interest of protecting the equity value. In doing so, they have anchored the conversati­on so far out in left field that any settlement is a win for them and a loss for us.”

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