DUBAI- Saudi Arabian government representatives were in Taiwan last week to meet bond investors in a so-called "non-deal roadshow", sources familiar with the matter said.
A potential sale of Formosa bonds – debt securities sold in Taiwan by foreign issuers and denominated in currencies other than the Taiwanese dollar – could allow Saudi Arabia to tap a new investor base at a time of adverse conditions in emerging markets.
To offset lower revenues caused by a slump in oil prices, the Saudi government has borrowed $50 billion through dollar bond sales since its debut in international debt markets in late 2016.
A "non-deal roadshow" is a series of investor meetings not tied to a specific deal.
The Saudi debt management office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Other issuers in the Gulf, particularly financial institutions, have frequently issued Formosa bonds over the past year. Qatar National Bank, the Gulf's largest bank, and First Abu Dhabi Bank, the largest lender in the United Arab Emirates, did so in January.
In April the government of Qatar also tapped the market, issuing a $6 billion 30-year Formosa bond as part of a $12 billion triple-tranche debt offering. It was the first ever sovereign Formosa 30-year bond issue.
Taiwan is attractive from an issuer perspective because liquidity in its banks allows borrowers to sell debt at lower costs than in conventional markets.
One of the sources said that despite the exploratory meetings, a Saudi foray into the Formosa bond market was not expected soon.
Saudi Arabia issued its latest U.S. dollar-denominated bonds in April, raising $11 billion. The head of the country’s debt management office, part of the ministry of finance, told Reuters then that Riyadh had largely covered its funding needs for 2018 and would focus on raising finance domestically for the rest of the year.
He added, however, that the country could consider issuing international sukuk, or Islamic bonds, to maintain its presence in that market.
(Reporting by Davide Barbuscia in Dubai and Sudip Roy in London; editing by Andrew Roche) ((Davide.Barbuscia@thomsonreuters.com; +971522604297; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))