* Sheikh Ahmed says more Dubai companies to repay debt before maturity
* Dubai World $4.4 bln loan maturing in 2015
* Dubai’s Emirates airline profit pose last financial year (Adds Dubai World, Limitless, Emirates; comment on speed of disposals)
By Praveen Menon
DUBAI, May 6 (Reuters) - Dubai will not have any issues in repaying all its debt maturing in 2015, and more state-linked firms are likely to repay obligations ahead of schedule, a top government official said on Tuesday.
“We will have no issues in repaying debt coming up next year,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, a close advisor and uncle to Dubai’s ruler.
Sheikh Ahmed, a key figure in the emirate’s recovery from its 2009 debt crisis, was speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of a Dubai travel industry conference. He heads Dubai’s supreme fiscal committee.
“We saw some companies paid before time already. I think you might see some more like this in the year to come.”
The major upcoming debt is of flagship firm Dubai World , which ran into trouble during the emirate’s 2009 property market collapse and had to restructure $25 billion of debt.
The first big debt maturity under the restructuring plan will come in May 2015, a $4.4 billion loan maturity, and is being seen as an important test of the plan. Another big maturity of about $10 billion is due in 2018.
Dubai World repaid $284.5 million of its debt in March, ahead of schedule. It also hired New York-based investment and advisory firm Blackstone Group LP to review its debt and how to make repayments to creditors, sources told Reuters.
State-owned firms such as Nakheel and Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group DUBAHC.UL (DHCOG) have repaid portions of their debt this year, ahead of maturity.
However, the emirate’s ability to pay remaining debts will depend on its sales of assets to raise funds, and some bankers have said disposals may not be proceeding fast enough.
Dubai government-owned property firm Limitless has asked creditors for more time to repay a $1.2 billion debt facility, its chairman said on Tuesday.
Sheikh Ahmed is also chairman of Dubai’s flagship airline Emirates, which is expected to report its results for the financial year to end-March 2014 on Thursday. He said the company’s profits would be higher than in the previous year. (Editing by Andrew Torchia and Louise Heavens)