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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

UNB sells $500 million of bonds in first debt issuance in two years

Five-year senior unsecured bond comes with 4% coupon

Union National Bank has sold $500 million of bonds in its first debt issuance for two years. Pawan Singh / The National
Union National Bank has sold $500 million of bonds in its first debt issuance for two years. Pawan Singh / The National

Union National Bank, an Abu Dhabi-based lender in which the Emirate's government has a majority stake, sold a $500 million 5-year senior unsecured bond, its first foray into the international debt capital market since 2016,

"UNB's strong credit profile, rating and ownership as well as the robust demand from investors for UNB's debt issuance, reflect the confidence and trust in UNB," Mohammad Nasr Abdeen, the bank's chief executive, said in a statement on Thursday.

The bond was priced at a spread of 135 basis points over the USD 5-year mid-swap rate, a more competitive rate for the bank than the initial price guide of 150 basis points over the mid-swap rate. The bond has a 4 per cent annual coupon. The bank didn't say what the proceeds of the debt issuance would be used for.

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ANZ, Commerzbank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, Mizuho and Standard Chartered Bank were joint bookrunners and joint lead managers for the sale, UNB said.

Middle Eastern buyers accounted for 50 per cent of the bond sale, while 22 per cent went to European investors. Some 18 per cent of the bonds went to buyers from the UK while Asian investors snapped up 10 per cent.

The government of Abu Dhabi holds a 50 per cent stake in UNB, while the government of Dubai owns 10 per cent.

The bank's 2017 profit rose 5 per cent to Dh1.65 billion amid gains in net interest income and non-interest income and as the lender kept costs at bay. Fourth quarter profit rose 15 per cent to Dh289m.

The economic slowdown that followed a three year slump in oil prices at the start of 2014 slowed lending as corporations and individuals shied away from tapping debt. Consequently many banks stopped selling debt to fund lending and expand their business lines.