Saudi Arabia to lead $300bn regional funding drive says S&P

Saudi Arabia accounts for half of the likely debt requirement of regional sovereign borrowers over the next three years, according to S&P. (Supplied)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Saudi Arabia to lead $300bn regional funding drive says S&P

  • GCC states have $300bn requirement
  • Bahrain and Qatar expected to rely on debt to plug deficits

LONDON: Gulf states will need to raise as much as $300 billion in funding over the next three years with the lion’s share going to Saudi Arabia, according to a new report.
High oil prices mean that the funding needs of Gulf borrowers are accumulating at a slower pace, S&P Global Ratings said in a report.
Still, GCC government net debt positions have significantly deteriorated since 2015 and now account for a much bigger proportion of fiscal revenue, the ratings agency said.
Saudi Arabia’s deficit alone accounts for about half of the Gulf states’ expected $300 billion financing needs — but as a proportion of overall GDP it is broadly in line with Abu Dhabi and Oman.
Rising interest rates and tighter financing conditions may present a challenge to some regional boomers according to S&P.
“Changes in domestic and international liquidity conditions could present challenges for sovereign issuance and tilt the financing balance toward assets from debt, or increase debt-servicing costs, as is particularly the case in Bahrain (where interest payments account for 23 percent of government revenue),” said S&P.
“We note that global liquidity is becoming scarcer and more expensive, while regional banking sector liquidity remains adequate.”
The rising cost of debt may mean that some regional governments will increasingly focus on asset sales.
Perceived regional geopoitical risk, most notably surrounding tensiions between Iran and Saudi Arabia along with its Gulf allies as well as the standoff between Qatar and some of its neighbors, could make some international investors wary of the region and demand a higher risk premium.
S&P expects debt issuance to account for some 70 percent of the $300 billion financing requirement of the Gulf states.
The ratings agency estimates that gross debt in the region has increased from an average of 14 percent of GDP at the end of 2014 to an estimated 38 percent of GDP by the end of 2018.
Bahrain and Qatar are expected to finance the vast majority of their deficits through debt, while Dubai and Abu Dhabi are likely to rely more on their assets.
S&P expects Bahrain’s net debt to have nearly tripled between 2015 and 2021 while Oman would slip into a net debt position in 2019.
Saudi Arabia’s net assets are forecast to have nearly halved to 65 percent of GDP by 2021.


Former Nissan chairman Ghosn appears in Tokyo court

Updated 23 May 2019
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Former Nissan chairman Ghosn appears in Tokyo court

  • It is the first of a series of hearings to iron out logistics for Carlos Ghosn’s actual trial
  • Nissan’s former chairman has hired a strong legal team as he fights to clear his name

TOKYO: Nissan’s former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, appeared in a Japanese courtroom Thursday for a hearing ahead of his trial on accusations of financial misconduct.
It was the first of a series of hearings to iron out logistics for Ghosn’s actual trial. The trial date has not been set, and experts say it could be months away.
Ghosn, who led the Japanese automaker for two decades, was arrested in November and charged with underreporting his income and breach of trust. He was released on bail in March, rearrested in April on fresh accusations and then released again on bail on April 25.
Ghosn insists he is innocent and says he was targeted in a “conspiracy” by others at Nissan Motor Co.
Nissan, which is allied with Renault of France, has seen profits nose-dive amid the fallout from Ghosn’s arrest.
Ghosn has hired a strong legal team as he fights to clear his name. One of his top lawyers, Junichiro Hironaka, was seen walking into the courtroom Thursday with Ghosn.
One of the conditions of Ghosn’s release on bail is that he is forbidden to contact his wife. Prosecutors say that’s to prevent evidence tampering.
Ghosn’s lawyers challenged that restriction, saying it is a violation of human rights, but the Supreme Court rejected their appeal Tuesday.
The lawyers can appeal again to have the restriction removed.
In a briefing Thursday, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Shin Kukimoto welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision.
“For married people to be together is important, but I feel there was enough reason for the Supreme Court to support us in this restriction,” he said.
Kukimoto declined comment on the hearing, which was closed to reporters and the public.
Kukimoto also said the maximum penalty upon conviction of all 15 counts of the charges Ghosn is facing is 15 years in prison and a fine of ¥150 million ($1.4 million).