The government of Kuwait is meeting with bankers to finalise the plans for its dollar-denominated debut bond sale to help it shore-up cash in the wake of dwindling oil revenues.
Executives from at least two international banks flew to Kuwait City in the first week of January to discuss plans for Kuwait to make its first ever foray into the international market to raise up to $10bn in early 2017, according to UKs Financial Times, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
The Kuwait government is yet to formally appoint international banks for the planned debt issue. It in November had asked banks to submit proposals for the sovereign bond deal.
Finance Minister Anas al-Saleh said in July that the government planned to sell as much as $10bn in conventional and Islamic bonds in international markets to help plug Kuwaits budget deficit for the current fiscal year, which will end on 31 March. Kuwait is rated Aa2 negative/AA stable/AA stable.
The timing of the deal in part depends on the market reaction to Donald Trumps first few weeks as US president. Kuwait aims to issue paper in a relatively calm market and the timing of the deal could be delayed to April or May this year, according to the report.
Kuwait, an Opec member, relies heavily on the sale of crude for revenues to fuel its economy. A slide in oil prices from the mid-2014 peak of $115 has pushed the Kuwait and its Gulf peers to look for alternative funding sources. Most GCC countries have already taken advantage of relatively lower interest rates and have tapped the international markets to bridge the fiscal gap.
Last year, GCC sovereign borrowers raised $33bn on global debt markets, 10 times the amount borrowed the previous year. Saudi Arabia, the biggest regional economy and the worlds top oil exporter, led with record breaking $17.5bn debut sale in October, which attracted $67bn in orders from global investors. Qatar, Abu Dhabi are among the other Gulf states which have tapped the bond market.
Countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, are expected to continue tapping capital markets to fund deficits in 2017, however, Moodys investors Service said the volume of borrowings will fall compared to what the GCC governments raised in 2016.