• Family group is planning to repay creditors from asset sales
  • Company is restructuring $1.6 billion debt for second time

Al Jaber Group, a family-owned Abu Dhabi company, is seeking a buyer for its engineering and contracting unit to repay banks as the group restructures $1.6 billion of debt, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Al Jaber LEGT Engineering & Contracting, known as ALEC, may be worth about 2 billion dirhams ($545 million) and has mostly received interest from local bidders, said the people, asking not to be identified as the process is private.

Al Jaber, whose businesses span construction and shipping, is among several businesses in the United Arab Emirates that sought to restructure debt after the global financial crisis in 2008 led to a crash in property prices. The company is rescheduling liabilities for a second time after signing an agreement with banks in June 2014, concluding about four years of negotiations, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

Abu Dhabi’s economic growth will slow to 1.5 percent this year, from 4.3 percent in 2015, according to the International Monetary Fund, after oil prices sank more than 50 percent in two years.

Asset Sales

Al Jaber in July almost doubled the amount of cash it intends to raise from asset sales under a new debt repayment plan offered to creditors, people said at the time. It now plans to raise 5.2 billion dirhams by selling assets including real estate and shares by March 2018, compared with a proposal to sell 2.75 billion dirhams of assets earlier.

ALEC, which started operations in 1999, employees about 14,000 people, according to its website. It has worked on hotel, airport, and retail projects across the Gulf Cooperation Council region. A spokesman for Al Jaber declined to comment.

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