DUBAI  - Saudi Arabian mall operator Arabian Centres is planning a sale of $500 million sukuk, or Islamic bonds, sources familiar with the matter said, in what would be the first Saudi corporate international bond issuance this year.

Arabian Centres, which operates 21 shopping centres across Saudi Arabia, made its debut in the international sukuk market in 2019 with a $500 million issuance, after going public earlier that year with a 2.8 billion riyal ($746.61 million) initial public offering in Saudi Arabia.

The company, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, saw its net profit drop an annual 34.1% in the nine-month period ending on Dec. 31 last year, as containment measures against the coronavirus pandemic impacted business.

HSBC is helping the firm to arrange the deal, the sources said, with one of them adding Goldman Sachs has also been chosen to lead the transaction.

The two banks declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Wednesday.

Proceeds from the planned debt sale - expected to happen before Ramadan - will be used to refinance outstanding debt and to back expansion plans, said one of the sources.

Arabian Centres went public in 2019. Its offering was the kingdom's third biggest IPO since Saudi Arabian lender National Commercial Bank raised $6 billion in 2014, according to Refinitiv data.

Its 2019 debut international sukuk were four times oversubscribed.

The planned deal follows a flurry of transactions from mainly governments and banks in the Gulf region this year, with borrowers taking advantage of low rates to boost coffers hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deal-making however has slowed down a bit in recent weeks due to rates volatility.  

($1 = 3.7503 riyals)

(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Davide Barbuscia, additional reporting by Saeed Azhar; editing by David Evans) ((; +971566883310;))