Saudi Arabia targets $2 billion with new Islamic bonds

The marketing exercise comes a day after sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia was planning to issue a new dollar sukuk shortly. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Saudi Arabia targets $2 billion with new Islamic bonds

  • The kingdom, acting through the ministry of finance, started marketing the notes with an initial price guidance of around 145 basis points over mid-swaps
  • The marketing exercise comes a day after sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia was planning to issue a new dollar sukuk shortly

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has started marketing US dollar-denominated sukuk, or Islamic bonds, with the issue expected to be around $2 billion in size, a document showed on Wednesday.
It would be the kingdom’s second international sale of sukuk after a $9 billion transaction last year. The exercise completes Saudi Arabia’s external funding requirements for 2018, according to the document.
The kingdom, acting through the ministry of finance, started marketing the notes with an initial price guidance of around 145 basis points over mid-swaps.
Citi, HSBC and JPMorgan are coordinating the transaction, and are joint lead managers together with BNP Paribas, Mizuho and Samba Capital.
The structure of the sukuk is the same one adopted for the 2017 issue, comprising a mudaraba agreement, a form of Islamic investment management partnership, plus a murabaha facility that would trade commodities with a special purpose vehicle.
The marketing exercise comes a day after sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia was planning to issue a new dollar sukuk shortly.
The sukuk, due to settle on Sept. 19 and with a January 2029 maturity, are expected to price later on Wednesday, according to the document.
The government has raised a total of $50 billion in international notes, both Islamic and conventional, since it started tapping the international debt markets in 2016 as part of its efforts to diversify its oil-reliant economy.
In April the government sold $11 billion in conventional notes — an amount which covered the country’s hard currency funding needs for 2018, the head of the Saudi debt management office told Reuters after that bond issue.
But he said an international sukuk deal was on the cards for the second half of this year in order to maintain the country’s presence in that market and to provide supply to sharia-compliant investors.


Saudi Arabia’s consumer prices fall in April, fourth month in a row

Updated 13 min 3 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s consumer prices fall in April, fourth month in a row

  • Economists still expect deflation in 2019 after prices rose throughout 2018
  • The International Monetary Fund projects GDP growth of 1.9 percent

DUBAI: Saudi Arabian consumer prices fell 1.9 percent year-on-year in April for the fourth month in a row but were unchanged from March, data from the General Authority for Statistics showed.
The annual declines in the consumer price index are partly a consequence of a base effect that raised prices last year after the introduction in January 2018 of a 5% value-added tax (VAT), economists have said.
The annual fall in the CPI index, however, narrowed from March when the index had dropped 2.1 percent. Some economists see the narrowing of deflation as a sign that Saudi Arabia is having some success in boosting its non-oil sector, while global oil prices have remained under pressure in recent years.
“The further easing of deflation in Saudi Arabia in April suggests that stronger activity in the non-oil sector at the start of this year is (finally) feeding through to a pick-up in price pressures,” said Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in a note.
Economists still expect deflation in 2019 after prices rose throughout 2018 following the introduction of the VAT, which was imposed to boost non-oil revenue in response to a long-term drop in oil prices.
Capital Economics expect Saudi CPI to fall 1.3 percent in 2019, while Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank’s projects the CPI index to decline 0.9 percent this year.
“The big picture remains that the unwinding impact of tax and administered price hikes implemented in early 2018 has revealed the weakness of underlying inflation in the kingdom,” Tuvey said.
After contracting in 2017, the economy grew 2.2 percent last year, but is forecast to grow more modestly this year.
The International Monetary Fund projects GDP growth of 1.9 percent, buoyed by an expansion of the non-oil economy as the government steps up spending. Y
The central bank chief said in February, when asked if he expected deflation this year, that he expected consumer demand and real estate loans would stave it off.
Credit grew in the first quarter by more than 3 percent, its fastest pace in more than two years, fueled by a jump in mortgages and in loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Tuesday’s data showed the sub-index for housing, water, electricity, gas and fuel prices down 7.8 percent from a year earlier. The sub-index had fallen 8.1 percent in March.
Prices for food and drinks, however, rose 1 percent and prices for education rose 1.3 percent.