Bloomberg News

Nakheel Chief Executive O’Donnell Quits Dubai Developer

June 09, 2011

(Adds analyst’s comment in fourth paragraph.)

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Nakheel PJSC Chief Executive Officer Chris O’Donnell left the Dubai-based builder of palm tree-shaped islands as it restructures $10.5 billion of debt.

O’Donnell, who joined the Dubai World unit in 2006, quit after his contract ended, Nakheel said in a statement yesterday. Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Manchanda will replace him until further notice, the company said.

The CEO is the second top Nakheel official to leave the company since it began to restructure debt last year. The developer appointed Ali Lootah to replace Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem as chairman in March 2010 and added four new board members.

“The departure won’t affect Nakheel’s strategy, which at this point is determined by the government and the chairman,” said Majed Azzam, an analyst at AlembicHC Securities in Dubai. “Once the restructuring is completed, the new CEO will have to start making some tough decisions on what to do with Palm Jebel Ali and other projects that are on hold.”

Nakheel, which constructed an artificial archipelago shaped like a world map, plans to issue 4.8 billion dirhams ($1.3 billion) in Islamic bonds, or sukuk, to contractors by the end of June, Al-Ittihad newspaper reported May 23. The company has already paid 4.6 billion dirhams owed to trade creditors.

Dubai’s property prices slumped 64 percent from their peak in mid-2008 after mortgage lending dried up, forcing speculators to flee the market. The government has pledged to give Nakheel $8 billion to help repay contactors and complete projects.

--Editors: Ross Larsen, Andrew Blackman.

To contact the reporter on this story: Zainab Fattah in Dubai on zfattah@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Blackman at ablackman@bloomberg.net.


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