Drake & Scull confident on debt restructuring

Drake & Scull International (DSI) will look to restructure its debt pile, which stood at Dh2.44 billion at the end of March, through the issue of a new sukuk or a syndicated loan, the company’s acting chief financial officer Firas Kalthoum said on Sunday.

Mr Kalthoum, whose appointment was announced last week, said that he had already met three of the firm’s top six banks and said that he was “very optimistic” about restructuring the company’s bank debt. A further Dh3.4bn is owed in trade debt and other receivables.

“In terms of restructuring the debts, we can definitely [do] other syndication or sukuk. That’s what we are considering. We have tested the waters with some of the banks and they are willing to consider it, but there is nothing concrete yet,” he said.

“It will take us two months to formulate a solid plan that [banks] are willing to accept and then we will go to the banks again, like a mini-local roadshow and then close the restructuring.”

Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference held to announce Tabarak Investment’s acquisition of a 10.39 per cent stake previously held by DSI’s former vice-chairman and chief executive Khaldoun Tabari, Mr Kalthoum said he was confident that banks would engage in talks “because now we are communicating with them more transparently”.

Tabarak Investments is proposing to invest a further Dh500 million through a capital restructuring, which will first involve 75 per cent of the company’s shares being written off to extinguish historic accumulated losses of Dh1.71bn, then the capital injection. Following the restructuring, which is awaiting regulatory approval and is now taking place in the third quarter of the year, Tabarak is likely to own about 50 per cent of the company.

When asked whether the Dh500m injection would be enough, Ahmad Kilani, the chief executive of Tabarak Investments, said that this sum was based on a recommendation from the restructuring plan compiled by PwC last year.

“Now, if we believe that the company needs more than Dh500m then we will sort out this issue,” he said, adding that this level of investment was set during DSI’s recent annual general meeting.

“We’ve committed to whatever the company needs,” he said.

Mr Kilani said there were a number of “quick wins” that Tabarak could help DSI with.

“Kapsarc [King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center that Drake & Scull completed for Saudi Aramco in 2012] has been pending for quite some time. I’d say sorting this out is one of the quick wins we are looking for.”

He said that DSI has already taken provisions for about 70 per cent of its claim against Aramco, which currently stands at about Dh2.4bn.

“If you reverse 50 per cent of that, I think the company would be in a totally different place,” said Mr Kilani.

DSI chief executive Wael Allan said that the company had already been through a major cost-cutting programme, with staff numbers declining to 18,000 to 19,000 – down from 30,000 when he initially arrived at the firm in April 2016.

mfahy@thenational.ae

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