Sharjah returns to debt markets with dollar sukuk offering

HSBC was hired as global coordinator, the document from one of the banks on the deal showed

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. Sharjah city skyline with beautiful blue sky.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Sharjah city skyline with beautiful blue sky.

Getty Images

DUBAI - The Emirate of Sharjah has hired banks to arrange an issuance of 10-year U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk, or Islamic bonds, a document showed on Monday, the latest Gulf sovereign to tap the world debt markets.

HSBC was hired as global coordinator, the document from one of the banks on the deal showed. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Sharjah Islamic Bank, Standard Chartered and The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector will join HSBC in arranging investor calls starting on Monday.

A sukuk offering, Sharjah's second this year, will follow, subject to market conditions.

The deal comes despite governments of the hydrocarbon-rich Gulf benefiting from a rebound from the shock of last year's oil price crash, with Brent crude at around $76.5 on Monday, and the COVID-19 pandemic's impact lessening.

Sharjah's mining and quarrying sector - which includes crude oil and natural gas - contributed just 4.3% of nominal gross domestic product last year, according to the sukuk prospectus, but the UAE is a major crude producer.

Rated long-term BBB-(minus) with a stable outlook by S&P and Baa3 with a negative outlook by Moody's, Sharjah raised $1.25 billion in a two-tranche conventional bond deal in March comprising 12- and 30-year notes.

Last year, it raised a total of $2.25 billion via a sale of sukuk, another 30-year Formosa bond issuance and a reopening of existing bonds.

Sharjah's revenue, which fell 24% to 8.7 billion dirhams ($2.4 billion) year-on-year in 2020, is projected to rise to 9.7 billion dirhams this year, according to the sukuk prospectus, reviewed by Reuters.

The small emirate, which has a relatively diverse economy compared to most Gulf sovereigns, sees spending rising to 17.2 billion dirhams this year from 16.5 billion dirhams in 2020 and 17.6 billion dirhams in 2019.

That would mean its deficit could edge down slightly to 7.5 billion dirhams this year from 7.8 billion dirhams last year - though still above 2019's deficit of 6.1 billion dirhams. ($1 = 3.6726 UAE dirham)

(Reporting by Yousef Saba; Editing by Alex Richardson and Peter Graff) ((Yousef.Saba@thomsonreuters.com; +971562166204; https://twitter.com/YousefSaba))


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