Saudi Arabia’s PIF provides initial pricing guidance for 3-part bond offering

Saudi Arabia’s PIF provides initial pricing guidance for 3-part bond offering
It is anticipated that the issuance will receive a Fitch rating of A+. Shutterstock
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Updated 22 January 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s PIF provides initial pricing guidance for 3-part bond offering

Saudi Arabia’s PIF provides initial pricing guidance for 3-part bond offering

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has released initial pricing indications for its three-tranche US-dollar-denominated bond, as revealed in a bank document seen by Arab News. 

The first, maturing in 2029, proposes a spread of 150 basis points over US Treasuries for its five-year bonds, featuring a par call option exercisable after one month. 

The second tranche, maturing in 2034, suggests price guidance of 175 bps over US Treasuries for its 10-year bonds, accompanied by a three-month par-call provision. 

Meanwhile, the third option, maturing in 2054, indicates a spread of 235 bps over the same benchmark for its 30-year option, along with a par call option of six months. 

Citi, Goldman Sachs International, and J.P. Morgan are working as joint global coordinators for the bond offerings, according to the document. 

It is anticipated that the issuance will receive a Fitch rating of A+ in keeping with the agency’s Government-Related Entities Rating Criteria which categorizes PIF as an entity credit-linked to the Saudi government, positioning its ratings with those of the state. 

This alignment is determined by Fitch’s evaluation of the strength of linkage with Saudi Arabia and the government’s incentive to provide support to PIF. 

In October 2023, the fund successfully concluded its Shariah-compliant bonds totaling $3.5 billion. 

The sukuk offering attracted oversubscription more than seven times, with orders surpassing $25 billion, showcasing investor confidence in PIF, according to an official statement. 

The overall issuance of Shariah-compliant bonds comprised two tranches. The initial tranche, amounting to $2.25 billion, matures in 2028, while the second tranche, totaling $1.25 billion, has a maturity set in 2033. 

Speaking in October 2023, Fahad Al-Saif, head of PIF’s Global Capital Finance Division, said: “This inaugural international sukuk issuance is another milestone for PIF’s medium-term capital raising strategy and a continuation of our efforts to diversify our funding sources.”

As a global, impactful investor, PIF manages a top-tier portfolio that emphasizes sustainability and spans domestic and international realms. 

Ranking among the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, PIF’s investments drive innovation, reshape industries, foster job creation, and contribute to the growth of Saudi Arabia’s economy.


Saudi EXIM Bank inks deal with Swiss counterpart to elevate trade exchange 

Saudi EXIM Bank inks deal with Swiss counterpart to elevate trade exchange 
Updated 6 sec ago
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Saudi EXIM Bank inks deal with Swiss counterpart to elevate trade exchange 

Saudi EXIM Bank inks deal with Swiss counterpart to elevate trade exchange 

RIYADH: Saudi EXIM Bank and its Swiss counterpart have signed an agreement to boost the Kingdom’s non-oil exports, enhancing their global market competitiveness. 

In an X post following the deal, the Saudi lender stated that the reinsurance agreement with the Swiss Export Credit Agency was signed in Zurich. 

This development follows Saudi EXIM’s signing of reinsurance treaties with a consortium of global reinsurers led by Swiss Re in Zurich. These agreements will expand global insurance operations in collaboration with the world’s largest reinsurers and provide insurance coverage to support the growth of Saudi exporters in global markets. 

The trade relationship between Saudi Arabia and Switzerland has been robust, with exports from the Kingdom to the European nation totaling $810.67 million in 2023, according to the UN’s database on international trade.  

The Kingdom’s primary exports to Switzerland included pearls, precious metals, and aluminum, valued at $587.57 million and $139.39 million, respectively.  

On the other hand, Swiss exports to Saudi Arabia amounted to $6.77 billion in 2023. 

In October 2023, Saad Al-Khalb, CEO of EXIM Bank, told Arab News that the main mandate of the financial institution is to support the Kingdom’s economy and flow of goods, trades, infrastructure and long-term projects. 

In January, the Saudi lender also signed an agreement with its US counterpart to boost cooperation and help strengthen economic and trade relations between the two countries.  

The total value of credit facilities implemented by the EXIM Bank in 2023 reached $4.39 billion, exceeding its annual target by 33 percent, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

This figure represents 5.2 percent of the total financial arrangements for the Kingdom’s non-oil outbound trade. 


March data reveals slight dip in Dubai’s inflation

March data reveals slight dip in Dubai’s inflation
Updated 13 min 1 sec ago
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March data reveals slight dip in Dubai’s inflation

March data reveals slight dip in Dubai’s inflation

RIYADH: Dubai’s inflation witnessed a slight decrease in March, dropping to 3.34 percent compared to 3.36 percent in February, according to official data.

The decline in inflation is attributed to lower prices of specific goods and services, notably in the food and transportation sectors.

Dubai’s Consumer Price Index rose to 110.77 points in March, compared to 110.50 points in the previous month, due to the rise in prices of key expenditure groups and services, including insurance and financial services by 8.67 percent, housing, water, electricity, gas, and fuel by 6.34 percent, and education by 3.62 percent.

However, despite the overall decrease in annual inflation, some sectors experienced price hikes. These areas included transportation, which witnessed a 1.75 percent increase, and housing, water, electricity, gas, and fuel, which saw a 0.58 percent increase.

Speaking to Arab News, economist and policy adviser Mahmoud Khairy highlighted that inflation affects sectors differently based on various factors such as economic structure and market dynamics.

“The most prominent and immediate effect of inflation is on consumption, potentially reducing consumers’ purchasing power and altering spending patterns,” he said.

Khairy also emphasized the sensitivity of the housing and real estate markets to inflationary changes in the Gulf Cooperation Council region. 

“Construction costs and property values may increase which will put extra burden on financing needs,” he added.

In addition to the decrease in inflation, food and beverage prices in Dubai in March decreased by 0.36 percent, along with drops in furniture prices by 0.06 percent and information and communication by 0.02 percent. 

The cost of restaurants and hotels also decreased by 2.15 percent, while prices of insurance and financial services lowered by only 0.08 percent.

In neighboring Saudi Arabia, inflation also fell in March, registering a rate of 1.6 percent compared to 1.8 percent the previous month. 

Shifts in the food and beverage sector primarily drove the decline.

Khairy explained that inflation expectations influence consumer behavior, similar to preparing for a weather forecast.

“When people expect prices to rise, they often rush to buy things sooner to avoid paying more later,” he said.

Investors closely monitor inflation, tweaking portfolios based on their predictions. Similarly, policymakers and central banks rely on inflation expectations to steer the economy, akin to checking weather forecasts for planning. 

Earlier last week, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva remarked on the importance of central bankers meticulously adjusting their interest rate reduction strategies in response to incoming data. 

Regarding challenges and opportunities for GCC economies, Khairy noted the reliance on oil revenues, currency pegs to the US dollar, and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East as factors influencing inflation and economic stability.

“Disruptions to global supply chains due to geopolitical tensions or trade disputes can lead to supply shortages and price increases, contributing to inflationary pressures,” he said.

The World Bank said in a report that “GCC countries are small open economies with high dependence on international trade which makes them vulnerable to global shocks in addition to domestic ones.” 

Khairy also emphasized the importance of economic diversification efforts and strategic infrastructure investments to mitigate the impact of external shocks on inflation and promote overall financial stability in the region.

He concluded that higher inflation poses challenges for government budgets and financing.

“As prices increase, governments face a higher fiscal deficit to achieve just the same level of consumption and investment. On the other hand, inflation is always associated with higher interest rates which increases the cost of financing for government debt,” he said.


Madinah airport claims top spot in Middle East regional ranking 

Madinah airport claims top spot in Middle East regional ranking 
Updated 22 min 22 sec ago
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Madinah airport claims top spot in Middle East regional ranking 

Madinah airport claims top spot in Middle East regional ranking 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah has been awarded the title of the best regional airbase in the Middle East for 2024. 

The recognition was announced during the Skytrax World Airport Awards, held at the Passenger Terminal EXPO in Frankfurt. 

Meanwhile, Qatar’s Hamad International Airport claimed the title of the world’s best aviation hub for the year, while Singapore Changi Airport, previously named the airport of the year in 2023 and a winner on 12 occasions in the past, secured the second position in the global ranking. 

Changi Airport also earned recognition as the top airbase in Asia and for delivering the world’s best immigration services, as per Skytrax. 

Meanwhile, Seoul Incheon Airport, advancing to third place in the global survey rankings, was awarded the title of the world’s most family-friendly terminal for 2024. 


Egypt’s foreign debt increases by $3.5bn, official figures show 

Egypt’s foreign debt increases by $3.5bn, official figures show 
Updated 18 April 2024
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Egypt’s foreign debt increases by $3.5bn, official figures show 

Egypt’s foreign debt increases by $3.5bn, official figures show 

RIYADH: Egypt’s foreign debt increased by $3.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023, reaching a total of $168 billion, as reported by the nation’s planning ministry.  

This marks a climb from the $164.5 billion recorded at the end of September, representing 42.4 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Notably, 81 percent of this debt is categorized as long-term. 

This uptick in foreign borrowing is part of a broader trend over the last decade, during which Egypt has significantly increased its external debt, investing heavily in state-driven projects.  

This financial strategy was underscored last month by an $8 billion economic support package secured from the International Monetary Fund. 

Amid these monetary maneuvers, Egypt’s Finance Minister Mohamed Maait recently projected that the country’s GDP would grow by 2.8 percent in the fiscal year ending in June 2024, with expectations of an acceleration to 4.2 percent in the following year.  

These figures are closely aligned with the IMF’s more conservative forecast of 3 percent GDP growth for the calendar year 2024, indicating optimism about Egypt’s economic trajectory despite its growing debt burden. 

Earlier in April, Maait highlighted that despite the harsh impacts of global and regional economic crises, Egypt has seen financial indicators surpass budget estimates and targets over the past nine months of the fiscal year 2023-2024.  

The minister noted that this success reflects the international recognition of the North African country’s economy for achieving better-than-expected performance metrics.   

Further emphasizing the economic strategies, Maait pointed out the significant improvements in non-tax revenues, which increased by 122.9 percent, and tax revenues, which surpassed 1 trillion Egyptian pounds ($20.6 billion), marking a growth of 41.2 percent annually.    

He noted these gains were achieved without imposing new burdens on citizens or investors, thanks to expanded mechanization intended to broaden the tax base and integrate the informal economy into the formal sector.    

Maait pointed out that the country’s ongoing effort to boost its economy is evident in the Ministry of Finance’s dialogues with over 2,000 investment institutions annually.    

The ministry’s Investor Relations Unit plays a crucial role in these engagements, maintaining open dialogue throughout the year and issuing monthly performance data.  

These documents provide foreign investors with precise, up-to-date economic data, including details about debt levels, deficits, and primary surpluses, the state-owned newspaper reported.   

They also offer a simplified guide on the various incentives, including tax advantages available to investors, aiming to alleviate any concerns and accurately address potential economic risks.   

Meanwhile, data released earlier this month by Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics showed a slowdown in the country’s urban consumer price inflation rate to 33.1 percent in March from 36 percent in February.   

Additionally, month-on-month prices rose by 10 percent in the third month of 2024, down from an 11.4 percent increase in the previous period.  

This development follows the central bank’s announcement in early March of a 600 basis points hike in interest rates at an unscheduled meeting, along with a shift to an inflation-targeting regime, allowing the exchange rate to be determined by market forces.  


NEOM subsidiary Topian boosts Saudi food security drive with new Tadco partnership 

NEOM subsidiary Topian boosts Saudi food security drive with new Tadco partnership 
Updated 22 min 15 sec ago
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NEOM subsidiary Topian boosts Saudi food security drive with new Tadco partnership 

NEOM subsidiary Topian boosts Saudi food security drive with new Tadco partnership 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s food security drive is set to receive a boost as NEOM subsidiary Topian has partnered with Tabuk Agricultural Development Co., also known as Tadco, to innovate fruit and vegetable production.  

A memorandum of understanding aimed at leveraging advanced agricultural technologies and practices to enhance domestic food production was signed. It includes setting up a hydroponic greenhouse facility at the company’s site in Tabuk, located in northwestern Saudi Arabia.  

Hydroponics is the method of cultivating plants without soil and utilizing minimal water resources.  

Hydroponic gardens, designed for space efficiency, can grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers in half the time of traditional agriculture, while using 90 percent less water. This will support the Kingdom’s efforts toward sustainable food production practices.  

Under the terms of the MoU, Topian will bring its expertise to the table, handling key responsibilities including the design, installation, and operation of the hydroponic greenhouse facility.   

Additionally, the NEOM subsidiary will oversee all aspects of greenhouse management, from production planning to workforce training and customer relations, as stated in a release on the Saudi Stock Exchange.  

The deal will see Tadco taking on a pivotal role in facilitating the project’s success by providing essential support and resources. 

This includes identifying and allocating suitable agricultural land for the greenhouse, establishing distribution channels for product off-take, and providing infrastructure and labor assistance to ensure seamless project execution. 

The partnership underscores Saudi Vision 2030’s aim to enhance food security through increased domestic production and sustainable agricultural practices.  

It shows the country’s commitment to greenhouse projects. In January 2021, for instance, Al-Jouf Agricultural Development Co. inaugurated the Kingdom’s largest greenhouse complex, spanning 12 hectares and employing advanced hydroponic technology. 

The Kingdom has also been promoting the adoption of water-efficient irrigation technologies to optimize water use in agriculture.  

In 2019, the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture announced plans to convert 1.2 million hectares of traditional flood irrigation to more efficient methods by 2030. 

Similarly, the National Water Strategy of Saudi Arabia focuses on improving water management practices for sustainable agricultural development. It emphasizes water conservation, recycling, and efficiency measures to address the Kingdom’s water scarcity challenges. 

Through initiatives like the hydroponic greenhouse facility outlined in the MoU, the nation is setting the pace for implementing water-efficient irrigation technologies and reducing agricultural water usage, thereby supporting the goals of the National Water Strategy.