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* Emirates hires six banks for planned benchmark bond
* Airline raised $750 mln from bond sale in Jan
* Dubai entities take advantage of liquidity in sukuk market
By Rachna Uppal
DUBAI, March 6 (Reuters) - Emirates airline, Dubai's flagship carrier, has hired six banks to arrange a potential dollar-denominated, benchmark sukuk sale, lead arrangers said on Wednesday, in what would be its second bond sale this year.
Emirates, owned by the government of Dubai, picked Citigroup Inc, Standard Chartered, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank and ENBD Capital for the planned sale.
Dubai, which is recovering from a property-led crisis in 2009, is taking advantage of improved investor sentiment and strong liquidity in the Islamic bond market to raise financing for its state entities at relatively cheaper rates.
Investment Corporation of Dubai, the emirate's main financial vehicle, is in talks with banks to launch its first Islamic bond issue, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters last week.
Dubai itself raised $1.25 billion in January in an oversubscribed dual-tranche bond sale, which included a $750 million Islamic tranche.
Last week, another state-owned entity, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, returned to global debt markets after an absence of more than two years. Its $1 billion Islamic debt deal attracted order books of $5 billion and the bulk of it, about 65 percent, was allocated to the Middle East. The utility printed the five-year paper at par at a profit rate of 3 percent.
Emirates airline will hold investor meetings in the United Arab Emirates and Europe commencing March 7, according to lead arrangers. The meetings will kick-off in Dubai and neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi on March 7, followed by Geneva and Zurich on March 8th and closing in London on the 11th.
Benchmark-sized transactions are at least $500 million.
Emirates launched a $750 million, 12-year amortizing bond in late January but received a tepid response compared to its last issue in June 2011. Market players said at the time that the unusual amortising structure had kept regional investors away.