Saudi Arabia, four other Gulf states to enter key JP Morgan bond indexes

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar have issued a quarter of all new debt sold by emerging market countries in each of the last three years. (AFP)
Updated 26 September 2018
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Saudi Arabia, four other Gulf states to enter key JP Morgan bond indexes

  • The indexes are key performance benchmarks for international investors in emerging market debt
  • Membership in them can help a country sell bonds and reduce its borrowing costs

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia and four other Gulf states will enter JP Morgan’s emerging market government bond indexes next year, a move likely to lure billions of dollars of new foreign investment into their debt, according to a JP Morgan statement sent to investors.
The indexes are key performance benchmarks for international investors in emerging market debt, so membership in them can help a country sell bonds and reduce its borrowing costs.
Sovereign and quasi-sovereign debt issuers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait will become eligible for the EMBI Global Diversified (EMBIGD), EMBI Global (EMBIG) and EURO-EMBIG indexes, according to the statement, which was seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Their entry will be phased in between Jan. 31 and Sept. 30. Both conventional bonds and sukuk, or Islamic bonds, will be eligible for inclusion in indexes, but sukuk will need to have a credit rating from at least one of the three major rating agencies to be included.
JP Morgan’s decision follows a surge of debt issuance from the Gulf Arab region in the past few years, as low oil prices force most countries to fund part of their state spending in the international debt markets.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar have issued a quarter of all new debt sold by emerging market countries in each of the last three years.
The inclusion of Gulf Cooperation Council countries in the indexes will leave them representing around 11.2 percent of JP Morgan’s EMBI Global Diversified and EMBI Global series, the statement said.
“It is estimated that around $360 billion of assets under management are benchmarked against the EMBIG family, with the EMBIG diversified at around $300 billion,” said Zeina Rizk, director of fixed income asset management at Arqaam Capital in Dubai.
Rizk estimated this would translate into about $30 billion of inflows into the five countries’ debt.
“Those inflows are not going to come on day one, but the tailwind resulting from the inclusion headline, coupled with pegged currencies, strong oil prices, a relative immunity from trade wars and high credit quality, leads us to the view that the GCC has better value than the rest of emerging markets.”
The minimum size for inclusion in the indexes is $500 million, and during the inclusion process, instruments will need to have a maturity date beyond March 2022, the statement said.


Tunisia tourism sector makes flying start to 2019

Updated 3 min 49 sec ago
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Tunisia tourism sector makes flying start to 2019

  • Influx of up to $262.6 million in hard currency revenues — an increase of 35.1 percent on last year

LONDON: Tunisia wooed more tourists in the first quarter of this year, which saw a 17.4 percent increase in arrivals compared to the same period in 2018, according to Tunisian Ministry of Tourism data quoted by Asharq Al-Awsat. 

The tourism sector saw an influx of up to 787.8 million dinars ($262.6 million) of hard currency revenues — an increase of 35.1 percent on last year, the newspaper reported.
Minister of Tourism Rene Trabelsi said that the tourism sector was boosted by arrivals from Europe, which rose around 22.3 percent.
After several years of shunning Tunisia in the wake of a gun attack on a beach in Sousse that killed 39 tourists and one at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis that killed 21, major European tour operators have started to return.
Arrivals from France increased 24.7 percent, while the Dutch market developed around 13.5 percent, it was reported.

 

Trabelsi expects more positive growth in the coming period, based on the bookings of global travel agencies. 
Tunisia seeks to attract 1 million French tourists, 640,000 Russian tourists, and 390,000 German tourists this season. It forecasts that it will host around 9 million tourists overall this year.
In 2018, Tunisia’s tourism revenues jumped to $1.36 billion as the country saw the arrival of a record 8.3 million visitors, according to data from the ministry.
The sector generates about 400,000 jobs and accounts for 8 percent of Tunisia’s gross domestic product (GDP).

FACTOID

9m

Forecast number of tourist arrivals in Tunisia this year, up from 8.3 million last year in Sousse, Tunisia.