RABAT Nov 23 Morocco confirmed on Friday that
it had begun a roadshow to promote a dollar bond issue that will
help control a budget deficit, as the North African country
tries to manage the effects of the euro zone crisis and Arab
"It started yesterday," Nizar Baraka told Reuters during a
parliament session to discuss a budget for 2013 that has
provoked protests over jobs and inflation in Rabat this week.
He declined to give more details about the maiden dollar
bond, but media have said the roadshow began in Abu Dhabi.
Initially estimated at $700 million-$1 billion, officials
have said it could be more than $1 billion. The central bank
governor said last month it would have a "medium-term" maturity.
Official sources have said it could be aimed largely at
institutional investors from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),
a club of wealthy Arab monarchies which has developed loser ties
with Rabat since Arab uprisings erupted in late 2010.
The government has mandated Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup
and Natixis to arrange the investor roadshow, expected to last
two weeks and include Europe and United States.
Public finances are in dire straits in the country of 33
million because of the financial crisis in the European Union,
Morocco's main economic partner, as well as increased social
spending introduced to help contain Arab Spring protests.
Morocco's trade deficit was 10 percent higher in October at
163.9 billion dirhams ($19.1 billion) than a year ago, up from a
five percent year-on-year increase in September - largely due to
a surge in imports, especially energy products and wheat.
But in August the IMF approved a $6.2 billion precautionary
line of credit for Morocco over two years, which it said the
government would treat as "insurance" in case economic
conditions deteriorated and it faced sudden financing needs.