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Dubai fund not in talks to sell Barneys

Dubai, February 8, 2009

Dubai government investment agency Istithmar World is not in talks to sell US luxury retailer Barneys New York, its parent firm said.

"We have not announced nor (sought) anybody regarding Barneys," Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of Dubai World, told reporters at the opening of port container operator DP World's new terminal in Djibouti on Saturday.

Last month, Bloomberg reported Istithmar World may sell Barneys, less than two years after buying it as the fund struggles with losses and the luxury market slows.

Bloomberg said Istithmar did not want to sell the business for less than the $942 million it paid for it in 2007, and that the state-owned fund had had calls from potential buyers and would sell its entire stake.

Istithmar World is a unit of state-owned Dubai World and one of the investment agencies established by Dubai's ruler to invest the emirate's wealth abroad.

Dubai World owns of DP World, one of the world's largest container operators, whose new Doraleh terminal in Djibouti has a capacity of 1.2 million TEU (twenty foot equivalent container units) per year.

This was expected to rise to 3 million TEU "over time", DP World said in a statement.

DP World said last month it was reviewing all expansion projects, cutting costs and freezing recruitment as growth slows in 2009.

Last week, Moody's Investor Service said it was considering downgrading the debt rating of DP World along with five other Dubai firms due to the escalating global financial crisis.

But DP World's refinancing pressure was low in the near term as its debt -- most of which consists of $1.5 billion worth of Islamic bonds, sukuk, and $1.75 billion worth of bonds -- was mostly long term in nature, Standard Chartered said in a note published on Thursday.

The note also said DP World, although vulnerable to the global downturn, was expecting to post a profit of $675 million, a 33 percent increase from 2007.

DP World declined to give reporters an earnings forecast in a conference call on Jan. 26 in which its chief financial officer gave an update on its business. - Reuters




Tags: Dubai World | Barneys | Istithmar World |

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