By Dinesh Nair
(Additional reporting by Saleh al-Shaibany)
Dubai Group, an investment vehicle restructuring $10 billion of debt, is in talks to sell its stake in Oman National Investment Corp Holding (ONIC), three sources aware of the matter said on Wednesday.
Dubai Group, part of Dubai Holding, the personal investment firm of the emirate's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, was hit hard by the global financial crisis and is considering asset sales to cut debt. Based on the Omani company's current market value, Dubai Group's near-42 percent stake would raise about $54 million. The sources were not aware of the name of the potential buyer.
Dubai Group declined to comment.
On Monday ONIC had said in a bourse statement that a major shareholder was in talks to sell its stake in the company to an undisclosed buyer, but provided no further details. "(The ONIC stake) is an asset Dubai Group has been looking to sell for a while, but the key question was whether they could find a potential buyer. They seem to have it now and a sale will ease a bit of pressure," one banking source said on Wednesday.
In September Dubai Group sold its Turkish insurance arm to a company owned by former AIG chief executive Maurice Greenberg and a unit of Dubai lender Mashreq Bank. It also cut half its staff of about 30 people as part of cost-cutting measures, including its chief investment officer, sources said.
Dubai Group also owns a 14.7 percent stake in Oman's top lender, Bank Muscat and its other financial assets include stakes in Egypt's EFG Hermes and Cyprus Popular Bank, formerly Marfin.
The firm's restructuring process suffered a blow in September when three international banks began legal proceedings to secure repayment of debts after running out of patience with the negotiations.
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