‘The beauty contests were completed in January, and the government is now in possession of all the relevant facts,’ says an official from one of the shortlisted banks. ‘The ministry could make a decision any time now.’

Morocco initially planned to issue its inaugural fixed-income issue by the end of last year, but the placement was postponed. Industry sources were unsurprised by the delay, saying that the government had no pressing financial need to launch the bond and could afford to wait for a more favourable opportunity to set a benchmark (MEED 8:6:01).

Moody’s Investors Serviceof the US assigns Morocco a Ba1 speculative rating grade, while Standard & Poor’s (S&P), also of the US, rates the kingdom a sub-investment-grade BB. In November, S&P reduced its outlook on Morocco to negative from stable (MEED 14:12:01).