UPDATE 1-Emirates NBD's Islamic unit eyes 5-yr benchmark sukuk - leads
* Emirates Islamic issues MS+350 bps area whisper for sukuk
* Books open, with pricing slated for this week
* First bond issuance out of the Gulf region in 2012 (Adds background)
DUBAI, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Dubai lender Emirates NBD's Islamic unit, Emirates Islamic Bank, has set an initial price whisper in the area of 350 basis points over midswaps for its five-year, benchmark-sized Islamic bond, or sukuk, lead managers said on Monday.
Books for the trade were now open, with pricing due to take place this week, they added.
Investor meetings are due to conclude in London on Monday, having previously met investors in Malaysia, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.
The potential sharia-compliant transaction is being issued by Emirates Islamic Bank but is backed by its parent company ENBD, the largest bank in Dubai by assets.
Should a bond be issued, it would be the first bond sale out of the Gulf this year.
Others are expected to follow EIB into the market, with Dubai's Majid al Futtaim Holding one possible name after it released the base prospectus for a $1 billion sukuk programme.
National Bank of Abu Dhabi, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Citi, RBS and ENBD Capital are lead managers on the EIB deal. (Reporting by Rachna Uppal, Writing by David French,; Editing by Dinesh Nair)
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