DUBAI- Oman Aviation Group, a government entity in charge of investments in the country's civil aviation sector, is seeking an adviser for debt financing of around $5 billion, two sources familiar with the matter said.
The planned financing, spread across the next few years, would come as Oman – which is less wealthy than its oil-rich Gulf neighbours – increasingly relies on borrowing to offset a widening budget deficit caused by a slump in oil prices.
The government aviation entity, which includes the country’s national carrier Oman Air, has sent a request for proposals to banks seeking an adviser on a financing programme of about 1.9 billion Omani rials ($4.94 billion) spread across the next few years, said the sources.
Oman Aviation Group did not respond to a request for comment.
Responses to the request are due by mid-February, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is private.
Formed in February last year, Oman Aviation Group includes Oman Air, Oman Airports and Oman Aviation Services.
A large part of the targeted financing will be used to buy aircraft for Oman Air, one of the sources said.
The state-owned airline wants to carry more passengers to and from Oman, its chief executive told Reuters last year, as it does not compete with the Gulf’s biggest airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, which focus on connecting passengers through their Gulf hubs.
Other Omani government entities such as Oman Oil and Electricity Holding Co, also known as Nama, have become regular borrowers in the bank markets over the past few years.
The government of Oman expects to raise a total of around $6.2 billion in domestic and foreign debt this year, according to its 2019 state budget. ($1 = 0.3850 Omani rials)
(Editing by Louise Heavens) ((Davide.Barbuscia@thomsonreuters.com; +971522604297; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))