Banks await Eurobond mandate

08 February 2002

Plans by the government to issue a Eurobond are gathering momentum. The Finance Ministry is studying bids from banks and is expected to award the mandate to arrange the kingdom's first Eurobond soon. Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas, Commerzbank, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase & Companyand Deutsche Bankare understood to be among the shortlisted institutions.

'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).

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