Gulf bonds likely to set record in 2021 amid budget squeeze

Gulf bonds likely to set record in 2021 amid budget squeeze
Kuwait could return to the bond market, depending on a new debt law that would allow it to raise more funds overseas and help it to overcome a liquidity crunch. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 27 November 2020

Gulf bonds likely to set record in 2021 amid budget squeeze

Gulf bonds likely to set record in 2021 amid budget squeeze
  • International debt sales from GCC rise as governments fill deficits and corporates hunt cheap money amid low rates

DUBAI: International debt sales from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council are likely to notch another record year in 2021 as governments need to fill wider deficits and corporates look to grab money on the cheap amid low rates.

The oil-rich region saw a second consecutive year of record international bonds, topping $100 billion, as issuers’ finances were battered by the COVID-19 pandemic along with low oil prices, with a few issues still possible before year-end.

“I think overall, the market will grow. We can easily add $7-10 billion more to 2020 total issuance,” said Khalid Rashid, head of debt capital markets for the Middle East and North Africa at Deutsche Bank.

S&P Global Ratings said in July that GCC government balance sheets are expected to continue to deteriorate up until 2023.

Kuwait, which has not issued dollar bonds since 2017, could return to the market next year, depending on a new debt law that would allow it to raise more funds overseas and help it overcome a liquidity crunch.

James Reeve, chief economist at Samba Financial Group, estimated Saudi Arabia’s financing requirements at about $60 billion next year, of which about $18 billion would be covered via eurobonds.

More issuance is expected from Dubai, which in September returned to the public debt markets for the first time in six years. Bankers expect it to issue another $2 billion next year as key sectors of its economy continue to be squeezed.

For sub-investment grade Bahrain and Oman, issuing debt is vital to replenish dwindling foreign reserves, though Oman may need explicit support from Gulf neighbors as investors are increasingly concerned about its worsening credit trajectory.

Hasnain Malik, head of equity strategy at Tellimer, said that he expects more consolidation among government-related enterprises, removing duplicated cost, and “raising of debt for the stronger business models that result from this consolidation is likely.”

Among corporates, a new entry could be Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), which received a credit rating last year, a banker said. ADNOC did not respond to a request for comment.


UAE’s Mubadala Petroleum signs Red Sea oil exploration deal with Egypt

The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 23 January 2021

UAE’s Mubadala Petroleum signs Red Sea oil exploration deal with Egypt

The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • It will own 27 percent of the stake as part of the agreement, while Shell will own 63 percent

CAIRO: The UAE’s Mubadala Petroleum Company has signed an agreement with Egypt to explore for oil and gas in the Red Sea.

The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea and was a result of a bidding round in 2019.

It will own 27 percent of the stake as part of the agreement, while Shell will own 63 percent. Egypt’s Tharwa Petroleum Company owns the remaining 10 percent.

The agreement refers to an area known as Sector 4, located in the north of the Red Sea in an area adjacent to the Gulf of Suez Basin, which is rich in natural resources. 

Parties will commit to conducting exploration studies in this sector and collecting seismic data for the area, using three-dimensional techniques, during the first three years of the exploration phase.

“The addition of Sector 4 in the Red Sea represents a new extension of our operations in Egypt, while providing a valuable opportunity to expand our activities, and by working with a strategic partner such as Shell,” said Mubadala Petroleum CEO Bakheet Al Katheeri. “The search and exploration operations in this sector, if successful, will support our strategy of extracting and manufacturing hydrocarbons, in order to contribute to supporting the stability and expansion of the Egyptian market, while providing growth opportunities for our operations in the country.”

Mubadala Petroleum owns a 10 percent stake in the offshore Shurooq gas field concession that includes the Zohr natural gas field, in addition to 20 percent in the concession area of Noor Gas Company. Both are located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Egypt.