(Corrects to 8 billion (not million) dirhams in para 2)
RABAT Nov 27 AttijariWafa Bank has won the backing of its general assembly allowing it to issue international bonds worth up to $1 billion, a source close to Morocco's biggest bank said.
A general assembly last week agreed to the board's proposal that it raise funds in the domestic or international market at any time over the next five years via an 8 billion dirham ($1 billion) bond issue, the source said.
It would be the first debt issue by AttijariWafa, a conglomerate controlled by the Moroccan royal family.
The bank source, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, gave no indication on when the lender could tap the market.
AttijariWafa has been using income from domestic operations to expand in Africa over the past decade. The bank has subsidiaries in Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Cameroon, Gabon and Congo, plus branches in Europe catering mainly to Moroccan expatriates.
But Moroccan banks are facing a liquidity crunch as the government tries to plug a budget deficit to cope with the effects of the euro zone crisis and increased government spending to stave off Arab Spring protests.
Last week Standard and Poor's revised its outlook on the bank to stable from positive and affirmed its 'BB/B' long- and short-term counterparty ratings.
"We now anticipate that the bank will not achieve a significant increase of capital over the next 12-18 months", S&P said.
The Moroccan government began a roadshow in the United Arab Emirates last week to promote a maiden dollar bond issue to raise at least $1 billion aimed at controlling the deficit. (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakouby; Writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Louise Heavens and Gerald E. McCormick)