November 13, 2014 / 7:35 AM / 4 years ago

DP World to acquire EZW for $2.6 billion in Dubai asset shuffle

A crane is seen on the quayside at DP World London Gateway container port in Essex, southern England July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

DUBAI (Reuters) - DP World DPW.DI, one of the world’s largest port operators, has agreed to buy Dubai industrial and logistics infrastructure firm Economic Zones World (EZW) for $2.6 billion, in the latest shuffle of assets among the emirate’s state-linked companies.

Both firms are majority owned by Dubai World [DBWLD.UL], the state-owned conglomerate which agreed to a $25 billion debt restructuring in 2011 after it was hit by the global financial crisis.

Dubai’s government and state-linked firms face some $85 billion of debt maturing in 2015-2019; Dubai World itself has a $4.4 billion loan maturing in May 2015. To help cope with the debt, companies have been moving assets and funds raised across the network.

DP World’s purchase of EZW includes the assumption of net debt of $859 million, the port operator said on Thursday. EZW has five business units including Jebel Ali Free Zone and JAFZA Enterprises.

A statement from DP World said the acquisition, which needs shareholder approval, would increase its earnings by 15 percent and generate a return of more than 7 percent on capital employed in its first full financial year.

The purchase will be funded from existing cash and existing conventional and murabaha term loan and revolving facilities. An existing $650 million bond issued by Jebel Ali Free Zone and due in 2019, and an Islamic loan which it has taken out, will remain outstanding although DP World may explore financing options.

Separately, DP World said it was seeking shareholder approval to delist its shares from the London Stock Exchange, while it would maintain its NASDAQ Dubai listing.

The London listing is thinly traded, partly because of its small free float, while liquidity in Dubai markets has been increasing in the past two years. Delisting is expected to take effect on or about Jan. 21, the port operator said.

Editing by Andrew Torchia

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