National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC (NBAD), the UAE's second-biggest bank, sold the Gulf region's first Samurai bond last week as it seeks to widen the pool of potential investors.
Diversifying the source of funding helps banks reduce risk by providing alternatives should other avenues dry up.
The yield premium demanded by investors on emerging market bonds increased on mounting concern the sovereign-debt crisis in Greece will spread to Italy and Spain.
State-controlled NBAD said last Tuesday it sold 10 billion yen ($127 million) of 15-year Samurai bonds, paying fixed interest of 2.6 per cent.
Samurai bonds, securities issued in yen by a non-Japanese company, are more likely to attract Japanese investors because they're subject to the country's regulations.
"Japanese investors are very quality focused," Anthony Barklam, the London-based head of debt capital markets origination for central and east Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Co, said in an interview. They "don't invest to trade the bonds, they invest to hold and get their money back."
Issuers in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council have raised $10.7 billion from 21 bond deals so far this year, nearly all of which were dollar sales, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
That compares with $13.4 billion raised from 20 issues in the same year-ago period.
The average yield on GCC debt has fallen 37 basis points or 0.37 percentage point this year to 4.91 per cent, according to HSBC/Nasdaq Dubai GCC Conventional US Dollar Bond Index.
National Bank of Abu Dhabi's 4.25 per cent $750 million bond due 2015 traded at a yield of 2.88 per cent on July 15. The yield on the bond has dropped 95 basis points, or 0.95 percentage point, from the year's high of 3.84 per cent on March 15.
Bond issuance from the Middle East and North Africa may beat last year's $40 billion total because of increased borrowing requirements and a logjam after the Arab Spring, Salman Al Khalifa, Deutsche Bank AG's regional head of markets, said June 14.
The UAE's Dolphin Energy Ltd and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Development and Investment Co held back bond sale plans in the past two weeks following the volatility in credit markets due to worries over Greece's debt.
The extra yield investors demand to own emerging-market debt over US Treasuries widened 13 basis points last week to 314, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co's EMBI Global Index.
In the US, disagreements between President Barack Obama and Republican lawmakers over raising the debt ceiling prompted Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's to review their credit ratings.
Standard & Poor's said on July 15 there was at least a 50 per cent chance it will lower the US's top-level AAA ranking within 90 days, while Moody's put the rating under review for a downgrade on July 13.
Irish debt was cut to non-investment grade by Moody's Investors Service on July 12 on expectations it will need further rounds of official financing, a week after it slashed Portugal's rating four levels to junk. Fitch Ratings downgraded Greece by three levels last week to the lowest rating for any country, saying a default is a "real possibility."
Still, "we're not likely to see many Samurai deals from the GCC region unless issuers are prepared to do a significant amount of work educating investors on their credit," said Barklam at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities.
From / Gulf News