What’s really behind the Ports Deal

It’s no surprise – It’s money.

While we are concerned about the Dubai investment in our Ports, the actual players have larger ambitions, as they try to diversify their energy-centric economy. This e-mail sent to Michelle Malkin is insightful:

I work as a corporate lawyer at a large law firm that has a speciality in Islamic finance. The real reason Dubai Ports World is undergoing the transaction is because of an Islamic finance vehicle called the sukuk. The sukuk is essentially a commerical paper type of Islamic financle vehicle–it is essentially a “fake” bond to work around the Muslim prohibition on interest.
Now comes the interesting part.
As you might know, Dubai has recently christened (my word) its stock exchange. It hasn’t been very successful thus far–so they’ve been looking to acquire really high profile items to trade on it. (Note: they also tried to buy the Refco assets after Refco collapsed). If the Dubai Ports World sukuk goes through, it becomes the largest publicly traded sukuk in the world.
As a result, Dubai instantly becomes the place to go for Islamic finance in the world–and folks specializing in Islamic finance stand to make a great deal of money.

The Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX) listed the world’s largest Sukuk, worth US $3.5 billion, from Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC) on Jan. 26th, 2006.

What was intended as a US $2.8 billion issue has instead rocketed to US $3.5 billion, after an overwhelming response from investors. Lead-managed by Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) and Barclays Capital, the distinctive sukuk is also the first convertible instrument in the Islamic finance market.

The issue is just one of a series of initiatives designed to boost the PCFC’s corporate activities, ongoing business development needs and expansion plans; having secured key ports in India and Australia — markets in which fast traffic growth is anticipated… Its unique convertible structure allows partial redemption of up to 30% in the form of equity shares of the PCFC entities as and when they go for a Public Equity Offering within the next three years. If no Public Equity Offering takes place prior to the final redemption date, investors will be compensated with a higher yield.

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