Debt maturities in GCC pose refinancing risks, says S&P

DUBAI — Companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries will face rising refinancing risks in the next three years as the amount of debt maturing increases “significantly,” Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said.

By (Bloomberg)

Published: Fri 18 Nov 2011, 11:38 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 5:17 AM

The region is “entering a challenging loan and bond refinancing cycle, especially given the ongoing volatility in capital markets and fears that slowing global economic growth is already curbing corporate debt issuance and heightening refinancing risk,” S&P said. Bonds and sukuk of about $25 billion will mature next year, rising to about $35 billion in 2014, the ratings company said, citing industry estimates.

Dana Gas PJSC, a fuel producer with most of its output coming from Egypt, said November 14 it is working with banks on refinancing its $1 billion sukuk. Jebel Ali Free Zone, owned by Dubai World, has a Dh7.5 billion ($2 billion) Shariah- compliant debt maturing in November 2012 and is exploring various refinancing options, the company said April 18. The average yield on debt in the six-nation GCC jumped 24 basis points so far this month to 4.96 per cent on November 16, according to the HSBC/NASDAQ Dubai GCC US Dollar Sukuk/Bond Index.

The rate soared to a year’s high of 5.97 per cent on March 18, three days after Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa declared a state of emergency for three months following more than a month of unrest.

S&P classifies Bahrain’s banking industry as the riskiest in the GCC, and sees limited credit growth for the industry in 2012. “We anticipate that they will continue to focus on their funding and liquidity and asset quality very cautiously, given the political uncertainties,” the ratings company said.

Bahrain, the only Gulf state to witness prolonged protests against the government, became the first Arab country hit with pro-democracy protests this year to tap global bond markets when it sold a $750 million sukuk yesterday. The seven-year Islamic bonds were priced to yield 6.273 per cent.

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