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Saudi Arabia to increase dollar-denominated debt sales

Saudi Arabia will probably boost its dollar-denominated debt sales next year amid more than $500 billion of expansion projects in the largest Arab economy, Deutsche Bank said.

Saudi Arabia will probably boost its dollar-denominated debt sales next year amid more than $500 billion of expansion projects in the largest Arab economy, Deutsche Bank AG said.

Less than 30 per cent, or $2.5bn, of the kingdom's record issuance Islamic bond sales this year were denominated in the US currency, data compiled by Bloomberg show. In the UAE, the second-largest Arab economy, the majority of sukuk offerings this year were denominated in dollars as Gulf yields drop to a record, the data show.

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, is building roads, homes airports and industrial cities as it seeks to create jobs and boost the economy. Some of this project financing needs to take place in dollars as companies import equipment for power plants and refineries. Saudi Arabian Oil Co, known as Aramco, and Dow Chemical are seeking $2bn in Islamic debt to help finance their $20bn petrochemicals joint venture.

"Next year and the following years I expect to see a balance between riyal and dollar issuances," Salah Jaidah, Deutsche Bank's chairman for Islamic finance said. "The large to mega projects will use dollars and the small to medium will use riyals."

The average yield on corporate sukuk in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has declined 280 basis points, or 2.8 percentage points, this year to 3.24 per cent on December 11 after touching an allow-time low of 3.2 per cent four days earlier, according to the HSBC/Nasdaq Dubai GCC Corporate US Dollar Sukuk Index. The drop helped GCC sales soar to a record $21bn, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Saudi Electricity, the state-controlled utility, raised $1.75bn in sukuk in March amid plans to spend more than 55bn Saudi riyals on power projects. Banque Saudi Fransi, partly owned by Credit Agricole SA, sold $750 million in May partly to expand project finance lending.

Middle East sukuk sales may surge at least 35 per cent next year amid public spending on projects, Mr Jaidah said. "You also have a strong liquidity in countries like Saudi Arabia."

At about $207bn last year, Shariah-compliant financial assets in the kingdom are the world's largest, about $100m more than Malaysia, Ernst & Young said in a report released December 10. Global Islamic banking assets may reach $1.8 trillion next year, compared with $1.3tn in 2011, it said.

* Bloomberg News

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