BMA sukuk finally priced

25 June 2004
The $250 million sukuk issue by the Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA) closed oversubscribed on 23 June. The five-year, floating-rate note was priced at 45 basis points over Libor. A listing is planned in Luxembourg, Bahrain and possibly in Malaysia.

Citigrouplead arranged the issue while Arab Bank, Gulf International Bankand National Bank of Bahrainjoined the transaction as co-lead managers. 'The BMA's idea in mandating Citigroup was to diversify its investor base outside the kingdom and the region,' says Usman Ahmed, vice-president of Citigroup's Global Islamic Finance Group. 'And we succeeded, with 22 per cent of demand coming from Europe and the offshore US and 12 per cent from Asia.' Demand came from a mix of commercial banks, central banks and insurance companies.

The sukuk spent an unusually long time in the market and was eventually restructured in May so that the asset backing the transaction - a plot of land at Bahrain International Airport - was leased rather than sold to a special purpose vehicle, avoiding the need for a royal decree. The paper is rated A- by international rating agency Standard & Poor's(MEED 21:5:04).

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