UAE's Emirates NBD nears bond sale plans -CFO

DUBAI, Sept 1 Tue Sep 1, 2009 5:51am EDT

DUBAI, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Emirates NBD ENBD.DU, the United Arab Emirates largest bank by assets, could raise as much as $2 billion in bonds over the next year depending on pricing and a proposed government guarantee.

Financial director Sanjay Uppal also said on Tuesday the bank could take its time on the new issuance, as it had few pressing financing needs.

"It's not something to be launched in a week or two week, but over the next six to nine months for something at that level," he said by telephone. "But (it's) dependent on the pricing element and government guarantee."

An advisory council to the country's rulers approved a bill in June allowing the government to guarantee debt instruments issued by local banks in a bid to boost the bond market.

Uppal said the bank, which already has a euro medium-term note programme in place, would look to issue tenors of three to five years.

"The impending government bond guarantee... would help increase the attractiveness of raising funding," he said.

But he noted that Emirates NBD had about 2.2 billion UAE dirhams ($599 million) of debt left to mature this year out of about 6.6 billion dirhams in total debt.

"If you look at a 2.2 billion dirhams maturity with a balance sheet of $75 billion, it's really small and nothing to force us to go out and raise funding," he said.

The new government guarantee aims to help shore up the UAE's banking system since the global financial crisis hit the Gulf Arab region.

The central bank and finance ministry have together launched 120 billion dirhams of emergency funding since September to help banks cope with tight credit conditions.

States and corporates in the Gulf Arab region, including Abu Dhabi, raised over $15 billion in bonds in the first half of the year and are eyeing more issues as spreads narrow and demand rises for high-rated emerging market debt. ($1=3.673 Uae Dirhams) (Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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