Qatar central bank to sell $6.6bn in bonds, sukuk

Conventional bonds will be worth $3.4bn, and the rest of the issuance will be in sukuk

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Qatar’s central bank plans to issue on Thursday conventional and Islamic government bonds worth a combined 24 billion riyals ($6.6bn), it said on Monday, a much larger amount than it has offered in past quarterly debt auctions.

This week’s local currency debt will be sold in three- and five-year tranches. The conventional bonds will be worth $3.4bn, while the rest of the issuance will be in the form of sukuk, the central bank said on its website.

The large issue is designed to replace part of an even bigger issue of #131.3bn worth of three-year government bonds that were issued in January 2011, as part of the central bank’s efforts to manage loose money-market liquidity.

Last March, the central bank launched quarterly bond sales worth a total of $1bn, allocated directly to banks.

It has also conducted monthly auctions of 91-, 182- and 273-day T-bills since 2011, consistently draining 4 billion riyals despite occasional build-ups of excess liquidity as well as a recent fall in demand for the bills linked to geopolitical tensions over the civil war in Syria.

Qatar’s new finance minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi told Reuters in December that volumes drained from the market through local currency debt issues might be changed flexibly in coming months.

The world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter may need more active management of money market liquidity in coming years as it plans to spend some $140bn on infrastructure building, partly in preparation to host the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament.

The International Monetary Fund has said Qatar’s central bank needs to start managing liquidity fluctuations more finely through more flexible open market operations.

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