Dubai Group in talks to sell Omani stake - sources

Dinesh Nair
Reuters Middle East

* ONIC says major shareholder in talks to sell stake

* Sale could raise $54 mln for Dubai Group

* Asset sales part of debt restructuring plans

DUBAI/MUSCAT, Dec 12 (Reuters) - 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 last month

when three international banks began to secure repayment of

debts after running out of patience with the negotiations.

(Additional reporting by Saleh al-Shaibany in Muscat; Editing

by David Goodman)

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