DUBAI/ABU DHABI- State-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC), which manages almost all of the proven oil reserves in the United Arab Emirates, is expected to start syndicating a $6 billion loan as early as this week, sources familiar with the matter said.
The loan, a credit facility with maturities of three and five years, is expected to offer an interest rate in the region of 50 basis points over London Interbank Offered Rates for the five-year tranche and 35 bps over Libor for the three-year tranche, said the sources.
The pricing of the loan has decreased from initial discussions because of significant interest received from banks, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is not yet public.
Asked about the loan, an ADNOC spokesman replied that the company was expanding its strategic partnership model and improving its capital structure to unlock value, free up capital and enhance returns.
"ADNOC is therefore considering various options with regards to its financing strategy," he said.
"The phased and prudent use of bank and other forms of financing represents an attractive and viable funding option for a more efficient and optimal ADNOC capital structure, whilst also allowing access to new and more diverse pools of liquidity."
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC and JPMorgan have lead roles in the syndicated deal, the sources said.
The UAE oil giant is also considering whether to raise at a later stage a syndicated loan for its distribution unit, said one of the sources without disclosing details.
ADNOC started talks with banks earlier this year on a number of fund-raising options, including a project bond of up to $3 billion. Middle East energy companies are increasingly turning to the international capital markets to fund their expansion in an era of low oil prices.
The UAE company is working on an initial public offer of shares in its fuel retail business, which could raise up to $2 billion, sources told Reuters. It could list more than 10 percent of its fuel retail business by early 2018.
(Editing by Andrew Torchia) ((Davide.Barbuscia@thomsonreuters.com;))