‘We’re expecting to push a dollar-denominated bond through the programme by the end of the second quarter and are close to awarding a mandate for this,’ says an EBI official. ‘Overall, we expect to tap the market for $200 million-300 million over the next 12 months or so.’

The MTN programme will allow EBI to periodically issue bonds and paper, and will facilitate the diversification of its funding base.

‘We are aiming to diversify our investor base – we will be selling instruments in international markets – but will continue to tap the syndicated loan market as and when we need to,’ says the official. ‘We want to tap various markets without swamping any particular one.’

EBI’s ability to raise finance at healthy rates is reinforced by its A2 long-term foreign currency rating from US credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service– the bank shares the highest rating of any bank in the UAE.

Enthusiasm among GCC financial institutions for alternative funding sources has increased following the success of February’s $450 million floating-rate note issue by National Bank of Kuwait (MEED 22:2:02). EBI is understood to be vying with Gulf Investment Corporation, Arab Banking Corporationand others to be next to market with a bond issue.