Saudi Arabia targets $2 billion with new Islamic bonds

(Adds details, context, banks arranging the deal)

By Davide Barbuscia

DUBAI, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has started marketing U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk, or Islamic bonds, with the issue expected to be around $2 billion in size, a document showed on Wednesday.

It would be the kingdom's second international sale of sukuk after a $9 billion transaction last year. The exercise completes Saudi Arabia's external funding requirements for 2018, according to the document.

The kingdom, acting through the ministry of finance, started marketing the notes with an initial price guidance of around 145 basis points over mid-swaps.

Citi, HSBC and JPMorgan are coordinating the transaction, and are joint lead managers together with BNP Paribas, Mizuho and Samba Capital.

The structure of the sukuk is the same one adopted for the 2017 issue, comprising a mudaraba agreement, a form of Islamic investment management partnership, plus a murabaha facility that would trade commodities with a special purpose vehicle.

The marketing exercise comes a day after sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia was planning to issue a new dollar sukuk shortly.

The sukuk, due to settle on Sept. 19 and with a January 2029 maturity, are expected to price later on Wednesday, according to the document.

The government has raised a total of $50 billion in international notes, both Islamic and conventional, since it started tapping the international debt markets in 2016 as part of its efforts to diversify its oil-reliant economy.

In April the government sold $11 billion in conventional notes - an amount which covered the country's hard currency funding needs for 2018, the head of the Saudi debt management office told Reuters after that bond issue.

But he said an international sukuk deal was on the cards for the second half of this year in order to maintain the country’s presence in that market and to provide supply to sharia-compliant investors.

(Reporting by Davide Barbuscia in Dubai; additional reporting by Sudip Roy in London; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens)

2018-09-12 09:27:47

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