Today's $10bn bail out of Dubai is no small sum, but what about protection from future financial scares?
Two weeks ago, I bucked the trend and foresaw Nakheel and Dubai Inc escaping by the skin of their teeth on the repayment of the developer's $4bn debt, due today. No one else seemed at all optimistic it must be said.
This morning, the shock announcement was made - Abu Dhabi was firing $10bn over the border. Yet probably more startling, there was the first categorical statement of where the money, or at least most of it, was heading – Nakheel.
Good news then? Of course it is for the lucky ones with financial interests in this immediate debt. Time to collect this years’ city bonuses and fill the stockings with goodies. But a word of warning: this $4bn represents the tip of the iceberg.
Looking a little deeper at the rest of the statement that was released we can see legislation is on the way, and pretty quickly too I would imagine. It concerns transparency and protection of creditors. In short, a bankruptcy law.
Sounds like excellent news, long overdue many will say. Of course it will certainly allow those creditors, in case of any future financial scares, to understand a whole lot better where they stand in the pecking order in the UAE.
But if the assets underlying it all are largely worthless, then there won’t be too much to collect even if you are first in the queue.
Risk is risk. Some you win some, you lose some and those with short memories would do well to recall the annual profits declared in the banking sector over the last decade or so. And keep it in mind over the next 12 months if there are any more tear-jerking stories of investment banking exposure in Dubai.
A close friend once told me, “It’s not all about the money… it’s about the money”.
Never a truer word said.
Stephen Fidler ia director of Exacta Consulting, UAE
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