Abu Dhabi taps debt market after Qatar’s $10 bln bond sale

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Abu Dhabi started marketing US dollar bonds on Wednesday, a document showed, following Qatar’s $10 billion debt sale on Tuesday, as Gulf states raise cash amid low oil prices and the coronavirus outbreak.

Two sources close to the deal said Abu Dhabi was looking to raise $5 billion to $7 billion with the issuance.

A spokesman at Abu Dhabi’s department of finance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Like Qatar, Abu Dhabi plans to raise debt in tranches of five, 10 and 30 years.

The emirate has given initial price guidance of around 265 basis points over US Treasuries for the five-year tranche, around 285 bps over the same benchmark for the 10-year tranche, and around 4.55 percent for the 30-year notes.

The initial pricing - which is expected to tighten - would give investors a premium of around 70 to 80 basis points over the emirate’s existing bonds due in 2024, 2029, and 2049, a banker said.

A plunge in oil prices last month pushed up the borrowing cost of Gulf oil-exporting countries, as some investors sold debt in consideration of the strain lower oil revenues would put on their budgets.

Abu Dhabi has hired BofA Securities, Citi, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan, and Standard Chartered to arrange the debt sale.

Qatar got over $44 billion in orders for its $10 billion bonds on Tuesday but still ended up offering some 40 bps over its existing curve.

Most governments in the Gulf region are exploring debt-funding options in the face of both the economic pressure due to the pandemic and the impact of plunging oil prices on their finances.

Oil-rich Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is dealing with economic pressures from social and business restrictions to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

As of April 8, the UAE registered a total of 2,659 cases. The pandemic has forced vital sectors of its economy, such as tourism and transportation, to a near standstill.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

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