‘We have approval for issuing up to AED 180 million [$49 million]-worth of bonds, but the final size will depend on market appetite,’ says Iyad Duwaji, Shuaa’s chief executive officer. ‘We are looking at the possibility of staging a split launch, with bonds issued in Kuwait and the UAE. We have entered into discussions with a handful of banks over arranger positions and expect to co-arrange the deal ourselves.’

If any Shuaa paper is sold locally it will be the first private sector dirham-denominated bond in the UAE. The only other dirham-denominated issue was staged by Dubai-based flag carrier Emirates in the summer (MEED 13:7:01).

‘We see no need to have the bond listed,’ says Duwaji. ‘It will be a regional private placement.’

Shuaa is aiming to issue the paper, which is expected to have tenor of three years, by the end of the first quarter.

‘We are going down the bond route, rather than seeking normal bank financing, because we have found it hard to borrow from regional banks who don’t understand how to view our operations, as a sizeable proportion of our asset base is in Europe,’ says Duwaji.

The investment-banking capabilities of Shuaa were highlighted by its early-January arranging and sole underwriting of a $30 million tranche for the acquisition of Aramex Internationalby the recently formed Rasmala Buyout Fund.