* Indonesia had planned to raise up to $650 mln in Oct
* Delay comes after govt cut debt issuance on lower deficit (Updates with details)
JAKARTA, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Indonesia will delay a planned $650 million global sukuk offer to the first half of 2011 from October because a lower budget deficit forecast reduces this year’s borrowing needs, a government official said on Wednesday.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, is keen to develop Islamic finance and has sold $650 million in sovereign sukuk in 2009. It has not sold any global sukuk so far this year.
Last month, a source told Reuters that the size of the sukuk could be reduced because of the lower budget deficit.
“Global sukuk is planned to be issued in the first half of next year. It won’t be issued this year,” said Rahmat Waluyanto, head of the country’s debt office.
When asked the reason for the delay, he said it was “to reduce our foreign currency-denominated bonds as we expect a smaller budget deficit.”
A finance ministry official said last month that Indonesia aimed to raise up to $650 million in the global sukuk issue in October and had appointed HSBC HSBA.L, Citigroup C.N and Standard Chartered STAN.L as underwriters.
It was not clear if the government aimed to raise the same amount in the 2011 offer.
“In terms of delaying the plan, it’s not necessarily bad, I guess they’re looking at the timing, and if they have enough money now, they can hold it for next year,” said Lum Choong Kuan, head of fixed income research at CIMB Investment Bank in Kuala Lumpur.
“Indonesia’s plan to issue global sukuk is definitely a good step. This would be ideal as foreign investors have strong demand for anything from Indonesia. If they decided to sell it now, the demand is still high.”
However, the government has often failed to raise its target amount in regular local currency sukuk auctions in recent months because of investors’ concerns over poor liquidity in the paper, in contrast to strong demand for its conventional debt. [ID:nJKF002417].
Waluyanto said Indonesia will maintain its strategy of frontloading bond issuance, selling debt in the first half, as in previous years.
“The government will still implement the front-loading strategy next year.” (Additional reporting by Adriana Nina Kusuma and Janeman Latul; Editing by Neil Chatterjee/Sara Webb)
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