DUBAI: Sharjah, the third-largest emirate of the UAE, sold $1 billion in seven-year sukuk, or Islamic bonds, on Tuesday, according to a document from one of the banks arranging the deal.
The debt sale comes as several governments in the Gulf seek to bolster their finances to face the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and a historic slide in oil prices.
Sharjah set the final spread at 245 basis points (bps) over midswaps for the sukuk, which are Islamic sharia-compliant bonds, according to the document seen by Reuters.
It tightened the spread by 30 bps from where it began marketing the notes earlier on Tuesday.
Sharjah, rated Baa2 by Moody’s ratings agency and BBB by S&P, is a relatively frequent issuer of US dollar Islamic bonds.
HSBC was hired as global coordinator for the transaction. Other banks on the deal were Bank ABC, Dubai Islamic Bank, Gulf International Bank, Mashreqbank and Sharjah Islamic Bank.
In May, the emirate raised 2 billion dirhams ($545 million) in privately placed one-year sukuk to support its economy during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement by Bank of Sharjah, which arranged that deal.
“Issued as 12 month dirham-denominated paper in several tranches, the Sharjah Liquidity Support Mechanism (SLSM) sukuk represents the first rated short term local currency tradeable instrument in the UAE, which can be used for liquidity management by banks,” the Sharjah Finance Department said in a statement on Tuesday, confirming that deal. It said that it was a first tranche and that further tranches with one or more other banks were expected to expand the SLSM to 4 billion dirhams.
S&P Global Ratings in April revised its outlook on the emirate to negative from stable due to lower oil prices and the impact of the new coronavirus.
“Although we expect GDP growth to recover in 2021, lower-for-longer oil prices and a protracted lockdown period could pressure the emirate’s fiscal position,” the agency said.