The Dubai government has borrowed more than 100 billion U.A.E. dirhams ($27.24 billion) from Emirates NBD as of the end of the third quarter, according to the bank’s most recent financial statements, underscoring the extent to which the emirate has come to rely on its biggest lender for financing after the global recession.
Emirates NBD, which is majority-owned by the Dubai government through the Investment Corporation of Dubai, has long been disclosing the loans as a related-party transaction in its quarterly financial statements. They have almost tripled since the financial crisis set in at the end of 2008, when the bank reported AED34.8 billion on its books.
The sharp rise shows how Dubai’s government has leaned increasingly on Emirates NBD for financing since the crisis, when many global financial institutions packed up their bags and left amid concerns that the emirate and its over-leveraged companies were on the verge of a debt default. Today, Emirates NBD’s AED102.4 billion worth of loans to Dubai constitute nearly half of its AED213.7 billion of overall loans and receivables.
Emirates NBD’s lending to the Dubai government has increased despite recent attempts by regulators to rein in local banks’ exposures. Dubai was one of the hardest-hit places in the world in the global recession, an experience that drove home the dangers of excessive leverage and led to hastily arranged bailouts from the central bank and neighboring Abu Dhabi.
The central bank responded by instituting a series of so-called large exposure limits, or guidelines that curtailed loans to single borrowers or groups of related borrowers to a maximum percentage of their capital. Banks resisted the rules, and called last year for at least five years to put them in place.
It’s not clear whether Emirates NBD is currently in compliance with the limits. A request for comment was not immediately returned.-WSJ