Egypt plans up to $7 billion in international bonds in 2019-20

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Egypt intends to issue international bonds worth between three and seven billion dollars in the 2019-2020 financial year, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said on Monday.

Egypt is also interested in diversifying the currencies in which it issues its bonds to ensure hedging within the portfolio, Maait said during an economic conference in Cairo.

The country has borrowed heavily from abroad since a $12 billion package was agreed. It faces a tough repayment schedule and a rising bill for oil imports.

Issuing sukuk, green bonds, yen or yuan bonds could allow Egypt to attract a new type of investor as a three-year IMF-backed economic reform program agreed in late 2016 draws to a close.

Maait said Egypt’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product is on a downward trend and should drop to 77.5 percent by the end of June 2022. The debt-to-GDP ratio was at 90.2 percent in the fiscal year that ended in June, he said.

“We would love to go for yuan and yen,” Maait told Reuters in a separate interview on the sidelines of the Euromoney Egypt investment conference.

“We tried last year, but there are a lot of requirements. We couldn’t get all the requirements done. If we can do it this year, we would love to see Egypt going to these markets,” added Maait.

The ministry is also looking at issuing green bonds and sukuk, a sharia-compliant bond, but is not committing to a specific type of bond issuance, Maait said.

“We are targeting something between three (billion dollars) as a minimum and seven as a maximum,” he said.

Last year, the ministry issued more than six billion dollars in international bonds.

“We may do the same this year - or lower than that or higher than that - but within this boundary,” Maait said, without giving more details.

He declined to give details on when any issuance would take place nor which markets would be targeted.

Egyptian officials have previously announced their intention to issue Islamic bonds, but the plans did not materialize. Maait said some progress has been made on the procedures necessary to issue bonds in yen and yuan but did not elaborate.