May 9, 2018 / 7:52 AM / 9 months ago

Qatar's Commercial Bank hires banks for first public bond since Gulf dispute

DUBAI (Reuters) - Commercial Bank COMB.QA, Qatar’s third-largest lender by assets, has mandated banks to arrange a series of fixed-income investor meetings ahead of a potential U.S. dollar-denominated bond.

The planned transaction would be the first public bond issue by a Qatari bank since a political dispute erupted in June last year between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

Qatari banks have sought to diversify their funding since the boycott started.

Commercial Bank said last month it had borrowed $250 million through a loan syndicated in the Asian market, and earlier this year it sold bonds in the Swiss franc market.

Its larger peer, Qatar National Bank QNB.QA, also resorted to various niche markets, issuing private placements, Australian dollar-denominated bonds and Formosa bonds in Taiwan.

But the Qatari government issued last month its first public bonds since the Gulf rift started, raising $12 billion, and opening the way for other Qatari entities to issue public international bonds.

The deal, which was largely oversubscribed, set a benchmark that investors can now use to price Qatari debt issues amid the ongoing regional diplomatic crisis.

Qatar’s Commercial Bank has hired BofA Merrill Lynch, Al Khaliji, Barclays, QNB Capital, Standard Chartered Bank and Wells Fargo as joint lead managers for the planned debt sale, it said on Wednesday.

The five-year senior unsecured bond will be of benchmark size, which normally means upwards of $500 million, the bank said in a statement on Wednesday.

Commercial Bank representatives will meet investors in Asia and Europe starting from May 10.

Reporting by Davide Barbuscia, editing by Louise Heavens

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