x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Union National Bank to tap bond market

Union National Bank is preparing to launch a bond sale, as Abu Dhabi companies head to capital markets in droves to take advantage of plunging interest rates.

Union National Bank is preparing to launch a bond sale, as Abu Dhabi companies head to capital markets in droves to take advantage of plunging interest rates.

"It is the intent of Union National Bank to tap the bond market shortly … should it consider the market conditions being favourable," said the bank.

The bank declined to give further details of the proposed bond sale.

UNB counts the Abu Dhabi Investment Council and Investment Corporation of Dubai among its largest shareholders.

Bond sales in the Arabian Gulf have hit a record US$40.6 billion (Dh149.26bn) this year as bond-buying programmes from the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve flatten yields on emerging market debts and companies seek to raise funds at lower interest rates.

A glut of cheap liquidity from yield-hungry investors from Asia has also contributed.

Banks in the capital, including National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, have met with large quantities of orders for recent bond sales.

Last week, Moody's Investors Service affirmed the bank's credit rating at A1, but changed the outlook from "stable" to "negative" as levels of bad debts grow and its Egyptian operations continue to face challenging trading conditions.

"UNB's asset quality continues to face pressures, with reported problem loan levels increasing slightly to 8.9 per cent of gross loans as of end-September 2012, well above the average of Abu Dhabi-based banks and global peers," analysts from the ratings agency wrote in a report.

UNB's shares fell 0.3 per cent yesterday to Dh3.04 .

ghunter@thenational.ae