Saudi Arabia could issue $20bn of bonds in regional debt boom, predicts US bank

Saudi Arabia could issue $20bn of bonds in regional debt boom, predicts US bank
Gulf states are expected to embark on a debt-raising spree in 2018, with Saudi Arabia taking the lion’s share of issuance that could top $50 billion. (Saudi Aramco)
Updated 07 January 2018

Saudi Arabia could issue $20bn of bonds in regional debt boom, predicts US bank

Saudi Arabia could issue $20bn of bonds in regional debt boom, predicts US bank

DUBAI: Gulf states are expected to embark on a debt-raising spree in 2018, with Saudi Arabia taking the lion’s share of issuance that could top $50 billion, according to experts in global sovereign credit markets.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoAML), the US investment bank, issued a report advising investors to “expect a busy period of Gulf Co-operation Council issuance,” and that it was expecting “very large issuance” from Saudi Arabia of around $20 billion of bonds.
Although marginally lower than the total raised in 2017, this is higher than many previous estimates of the amount the Kingdom would seek to raise on international markets.
A rival US bank, which did not want to be named because it was advising the Saudi government on bond issues, said that it was expecting between $5 and $10 billion in dollar-denominated debt in the course of 2018.
Raising debt is a key part of the Kingdom’s strategy to finance its budget deficit, forecast to reach SR328 billion ($87.5 billion) in the recent budget for 2018.
Official estimates then were that 12 percent of the deficit would be covered by debt issuance, which includes domestic debt as well as sovereign debt on global capital markets.
BoAML said in its report that spreads on Saudi debt were wide for its rating category, but were justified by the large amount to be issued. A wide spread usually indicates a riskier investment proposition.
Saudi Arabia has been increasingly looking to international capital markets to help balance the books when lower revenues from oil have hiked the deficit. Last year, the Kingdom raised a total of $21 billion on global markets, and a further $10 billion from domestic issues.
Historically low interest rates have also increased investors’ appetite for bigger debt issuance.
Other GCC countries are also expected to take part in the debt bonanza this year. BoAML said that it was expecting Qatar to raise a total of $10 billion on international markets, especially as a $2 billion Eurobond matures this month.
The country has come under pressure as a result of disruption to its financial system from the sanctions imposed on it by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt over allegations of terrorism funding, and still needs extra international investment for infrastructure spending ahead of the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Valuations of Kuwait and Abu Dhabi debt are tight, as they are in Dubai, which needs to increase borrowing to help pay for projects in the Expo 2020 business exhibition.
Oman is expected to raise $8.5 billion this year, with large volumes of debt in external markets to fund its big budget deficit.
Bahrain, also running a large deficit, will be active in international debt markets, BoAML said. “We expect the country to be financially supported by the GCC if it commits to reforms,” the bank added.


UK economy shrinks by 2.6% in November, first drop since April

UK economy shrinks by 2.6% in November, first drop since April
Updated 15 January 2021

UK economy shrinks by 2.6% in November, first drop since April

UK economy shrinks by 2.6% in November, first drop since April
  • The fall in gross domestic product much lower than the average forecast for a 5.7 percent drop

LONDON: Britain’s economy shrank by 2.6 percent in November, the first monthly fall in output since the depths of an initial COVID lockdown in April, as new restrictions were imposed on much of the country to slow the spread of the disease.
The fall in gross domestic product reported by the Office for National Statistics was much lower than the average forecast for a 5.7 percent drop in a Reuters poll of economists.
The Bank of England estimates Britain’s economy shrank by just over 1 percent over the final three months of 2020, and with a new lockdown in place since January the country is likely to have fallen into a double-dip recession.
The BoE ramped up its bond-buying program to almost 900 billion pounds in November and Governor Andrew Bailey said this week that it was too soon to say if further stimulus would be needed.