Business | Economy

RAK looking for investors to reduce Dh5b debt

Emirate seeks investments in about 16 government-related companies

  • Zawya Dow Jones
  • Published: 00:00 June 17, 2010
  • Gulf News

Ras Al Khaimah: Ras Al Khaimah wants to reduce its Dh5 billion ($1.36 billion) of debt after funding development with Islamic bonds, a senior official said.

"We'd like to reduce this structural debt and then bring in partners," Jim Stewart, chief executive of the Ras Al Khaimah government's Investment and Development Office said.

Investors will share equity in some of the emirate's 16 government-related companies - which could also sell shares to the public in a few years - or help develop its major projects, said Stewart, from his office this week.

Ras Al Khaimah, the fourth-largest member of the UAE, wants to reduce its modest debts.

The emirate has about Dh3.6 billion of sukuk listed on the London Stock Exchange and doesn't have plans for more borrowing.

According to Zawya.com, the government has an ongoing $2 billion sukuk programme and sold $400 million of bonds in July last year in the first dollar sukuk issue by an emirate in the UAE.

It sold Dh1 billion of sukuk in May 2008. Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority, or Rakia, sold a $325 million sukuk in 2007.

The government is rated ‘A/A' by Fitch and Standards & Poor's ratings agencies. Ras Al Khaimah, which has struggled to attract investment on the same scale as bigger emirates like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has built up raw materials and mining industries. It is also making a foray into real estate and tourism by building resorts and an amusement park along its Arabian Gulf coastline.

"We built up this emirate on a needs-basis," he added. "We haven't just gone out and built things. Most of the work we're doing is an expansion of our assets."

Assets

Those assets include a maritime free-zone business park and Ras Al Khaimah International Airport. The emirate is also home to the world's largest tile maker, Rak Ceramics, and is building up its ports to boost trade, while developing docks overseas in Georgia and India.

The Investment and Dev-elopment Office run by Stewart manages the government's investments and acts as a centralised debt management agency.

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