Saudi-based IDB says plans benchmark sukuk issue around May 2015
* Islamic Development Bank says issue could be around $1.5 bln
* Bank plans to go to the market every year
* IDB considering whether to guarantee planned Tunisian sukuk
By Maja Zuvela
SARAJEVO, May 14 (Reuters) - Islamic Development Bank (IDB) , a Jeddah-based multilateral institution, plans to issue a benchmark-sized Islamic bond or sukuk in around May next year, the bank's President Ahmad Mohamed Ali said on Wednesday.
In February, IDB, which has a top-notch AAA rating, priced a $1.5 billion, five-year sukuk, its largest ever Islamic bond.
"The new issue will for sure be close to this year's issue ... maybe a little more or a little less," Ali told Reuters on the sidelines of an economic conference in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.
"We are planning to go to the market every year but the amount will depend on different factors. We will inspect the needs of the bank and the conditions on the market," Ali said.
He said that IDB, an international lender which has 56 member states and promotes economic development in Muslim countries, was considering whether to guarantee Tunisia's proposed 700 million dinar ($431.79 million) debut sukuk.
The Tunisian issue is aimed at helping the North African economy recover after being hit by the 2011 uprising.
The issue had been planned for April or May but Tunisia's central bank governor has said it was complex and was likely to take longer.
"No decision has been taken yet," said Ali. He added that IDB's insurance arm, the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), is also debating whether to extend a sukuk insurance product to boost the credit rating of Tunisia's sukuk.
ICIEC launched the insurance product last year, viewing that the insurance policy could help sovereign issuers tap into strong investor demand for investment-grade sukuk.
"It is a new product. This is just a proposal and it is still under consideration," Ali said. But he said that IDB might consider subscribing to the Tunisian sukuk.
"If Tunisia did issue a sukuk, IDB will definitely consider participating in such an issue because it is our policy to support our member countries in issuing their sukuk," Ali said. ($1 = 1.6212 Tunisian dinars) (Editing by Susan Fenton)
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