SAMA to launch virtual riyal for banks

Updated 06 October 2017
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SAMA to launch virtual riyal for banks

JEDDAH: The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) will implement a pilot project to issue a virtual/digital currency that will be traded exclusively among banks to avoid any economic impact, SAMA Governor Ahmed Al-Khulaifi has revealed.
SAMA will also study the positive aspects of the practice and consider whether or not it will continue.
Al-Khulaifi ruled out any plan to issue a digital currency for trading between individuals and companies, adding that the Saudi banknotes currency will be dispensed with the coins.
Quoted by Al-Hayat daily, Al-Khulaifi said in a press conference at SAMA headquarters in Riyadh on Wednesday that "The Saudi Riyals banknotes currency will be dispensed and one Riyal category will be issued into coins instead in the next stage."
He also confirmed that SAMA "provided all equipment needed for the issuance and circulation of the Riyal coins as it will be available at the headquarters of the agency, its branches and the entire banking sector."
Al-Khulaifi was surprised by the decline experienced by the Saudi riyals in futures exchange. He said he sees no reason for that as he described liquidity in the banking system as good.
He pointed out that "private consumption expenditure exceeded trillion riyals last year, an increase of 5 percent compared to 2015, while government consumption expenditure amounted to SAR16 billion."
He also disclosed that the average per capita private consumption amounted to SAR33,000 last year.
He described SAMA's reserve assets as "still good, it amounted to SAR1.8 trillion in August. They cover more than 30 months of Saudi imports of goods and services and account for more than 70 percent of GDP."


Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. plans up to $1.07bn sukuk sale this year

Updated 18 min 52 sec ago
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Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. plans up to $1.07bn sukuk sale this year

  • The plan by SRC, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund, comes as it prepares to purchase more home loan portfolios
  • SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year

RIYADH: Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. (SRC), modelled on US mortgage finance firm Fannie Mae, aims to issue up to 4 billion riyals ($1.07 billion) of long-term sukuk this year, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The plan by SRC, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund, comes as it prepares to purchase more home loan portfolios from mortgage financing companies and banks to boost the Kingdom’s secondary mortgage market.

SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year, Fabrice Susini told Reuters in an interview.

“Our strategy is clearly to tap the market twice this year,” he said. “We are really looking at probably issuing something between ... 2 and 4 billion riyal that we may be issuing in two tranches.

He said SRC was looking at sukuk in the 10 to 15-year range, to help minimize refinancing risks. “Generally speaking we are trying to issue as long as possible,” Susini said.

He said the company was assessing whether it could also issue bonds in currencies other than the local riyal.

In March, SRC completed a 750 million riyal sukuk issue with multiple tenors, under a program that allows it to issue up to 11 billion riyals of local currency denominated Islamic bonds.

“The rule of the game for us is, like many projects across the Kingdom, attract liquidity from foreign investors,” Susini said.

He said SRC had spent 1.2 billion riyals from its balance sheet buying mortgages from local mortgage financing companies and provided liquidity to these firms.

It has also signed initial accords with several commercial banks to acquire housing mortgage portfolios.

Saudi Arabia’s housing ministry is targeting the mortgage market to reach a total value of 502 billion riyals by 2020 from around 300 billion riyals now.

The government wants to increase activity in the real estate market as it moves to revitalize the economy and is taking steps to reform the sector as part of its 2030 reform plan.

It has been working with developers and local banks to counter a shortage of affordable housing — one of the country’s biggest social and economic problems. Saudi Arabia wants 60 percent of its nationals to own homes by 2020, up from 47 percent in 2016.

The size of real estate financing relative to its gross domestic product is 5 percent in Saudi Arabia compared to 69 percent in the United States, 74 percent in the United Kingdom and 43 pct in Canada, the housing ministry has said.

“The goal of SRC in this market was to make sure that we will be able to refinance at least around 10 percent of the market in 2020, and 20 percent of the market by 2028,” Susini told Reuters.