Qatar's Masraf Al Rayan hires banks for debut dollar sukuk - sources

DUBAI, March 24 (Reuters) - Qatari Islamic lender Masraf Al Rayan has hired banks ahead of a potential sale of U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk, or Islamic bonds, sources familiar with the matter said.

The planned deal - which would be Masraf’s first public debt sale - would follow last week’s international bond issues by Qatar Islamic Bank and Qatar National Bank, as the Gulf state’s banks take advantage of improved market conditions to boost their finances.

The planned five-year sukuk will be of benchmark size, which generally means upwards of $500 million, the sources added.

Masraf has hired a group of banks including Barclays and Standard Chartered to arrange the deal, said the sources.

Masraf did not respond to a request for comment.

Barclays and Standard Chartered did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Masraf’s shareholders last month approved an increase of the bank’s issuance programme limit to $2 billion from $1 billion “in order to meet the bank’s general funding requirements,” the bank said in a statement on Feb. 26.

Depending on market conditions, Masraf could sell the sukuk soon, potentially already this week, the sources said.

Qatar Islamic Bank, the country’s largest Islamic lender, and Qatar National Bank, the largest bank in the Middle East and Africa, raised a combined $1.75 billion in bonds last week.

The debt issues followed a $12 billion jumbo bond sale by the Qatari government earlier this month – the largest emerging market sovereign debt sale this year – which provided a fresh pricing benchmark for Qatari borrowers. (Reporting by Davide Barbuscia, additional reporting by Eric Knecht in Doha. Editing by Jane Merriman)