Bahrain plans to start the roadshow to meet investors on a sovereign bond issuance in Mid-March, says Rasheed, al-Meraj, governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB).

The government planned to raise $1bn from international investors, says Al-Meraj and confirmed France’s BNP Paribas, Germany’s Deutsche Bank and the US’ JPMorgan had been mandated to run the issue.

The bond issue is expected to be finalised in April and will be the first sovereign bond issue by a Gulf country in 2010.

As part of the CBB’s efforts to ensure the health of the financial sector, it had asked banks to refrain from paying dividends based on unrealised profits, or profit that has come from increases in asset values still held by the bank and not yet sold, says Al-Meraj.

In June last year, Bahrain issued a $750m Islamic bond (sukuk), that was heavily oversubscribed.