Banque Saudi Fransi Issues First Dollar Sukuk

Banque Saudi Fransi, the kingdom’s fifth biggest bank by market capitalization, plans to issue its first dollar-denominated Islamic bond, or sukuk, depending on market conditions, and has picked banks to arrange investor meetings.

The lender has picked Citi, Deutsche Bank and Credit Agricole to arrange global roadshows starting in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 7, the banks said.

The same banks are arrangers and dealers on the company’s recently-established $2 billion sukuk program.

A benchmark dollar-denominated Islamic bond, or sukuk, may follow the meetings, subject to market conditions, arranging banks said. Benchmark is usually understood to mean at least $500 million.

Banque Saudi Fransi’s existing $650 million 4.5 percent conventional bond, maturing 2015 was bid at 104.25 levels on Wednesday, to yield 2.7 percent. It was trading at a zero-volatility spread (z-spread) of about 210 basis points, Thomson Reuters data showed.

The z-spread is a pricing tool which calculates the number of basis points that need to be added to a zero-coupon yield curve to make the bond’s discounted cash flows equal the bond’s present value.

Yields have consistently fallen since the bond was launched, hitting a low of about 2.3 percent in mid-April.

Although domestic riyal-denominated sukuk issuance has risen dramatically this year so far, with a mammoth $4 billion equivalent sale from General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), Saudi borrowers are not as active in dollar markets.

But many – especially investment-grade corporates – would find substantial demand. In March, Saudi Electricity Co reportedly received orders in excess of $15 billion for a $1.75 billion sukuk issue.

A strong regional bid as well as significant global Islamic liquidity are likely to support any potential issue from the bank.

Roadshows are due to end on May 11 in London, and will also cover the United Arab Emirates, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Shares were trading 0.5 percent higher at 0920 GMT, and are up 13 percent year to date, Reuters reported.

Leave a comment