Samref close to finalising $1.4bn loan

25 March 2013

Regional banks back in Saudi loan market for first time in years

Saudi Aramco Mobil Refinery Company (Samref) has completed a $1.4bn loan deal, including participation from some regional banks lending long-term dollar financing into the kingdom for the first time in years.

The deal is split between a $1bn term loan and a SR1.5bn ($400m) revolving credit facility. The term loan matures in December 2022 and has a margin of 1.6 per cent and fees of 1.4 per cent. It also includes participation of several non-Saudi banks including National Bank of Abu Dhabi, National Bank of Kuwait, and Jordan’s Arab Bank.

Since the onset of the financial crisis, banks in the kingdom have largely priced out international and regional banks by offering cheaper local currency loans on most projects raising under $2bn. The Samref deal has raised eyebrows among bankers in the kingdom. “We have not seen a regional bank lending dollars into the kingdom for several years,” says one banker in Riyadh.

Regional banks are understood to have tempted to do the deal because of their relationships with Aramco and the relatively high pricing compared with other recent Aramco deals.

The SR1.4bn revolver has a margin of 0.7 per cent and is funded by four banks, Riyad Bank, National Commercial Bank, Saudi British Bank (Sabb) and Bahrain-based Gulf International Bank, which is also financial adviser on the deal, and a lender on the dollar loan.

Samref, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and the US’ ExxonMobil, will use proceeds of the loan to fund its Clean Fuels Project, which includes an expansion and modification of its Yanbu refinery.

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