Complex Made Simple

Bahrain’s Nogaholding approaches banks for debut bond programme

* In March last year, the company raised a $570 million murabaha facility with a five-year maturity

* This comes as banks, corporates and governments seek to borrow U.S dollars to offset the negative impact of lower oil prices

* A  spokeswoman for Nogaholding declined to comment

 

Nogaholding, the investment arm of Bahrain’s National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA), has approached banks with the aim of setting up an international bond programme, sources close to the situation said on Sunday.

A potential fund-raising exercise by the Bahraini company in the international debt markets would come at a busy time for the Gulf, as banks, corporates and governments seek to borrow U.S dollars to offset the negative impact of lower oil prices.

The holding company for oil and gas assets owned by Bahrain’s government plans to appoint a global coordinator to help it arrange the programme, which would be followed by bond issuues after Nogaholding obtained a credit rating, the sources said.

A spokeswoman for Nogaholding declined to comment.

The bond programme could be either for conventional bonds or for sukuk, said one of the sources, adding that since Nogaholding’s latest U.S. dollar fund-raising exercise was an Islamic loan, a sukuk programme seemed more likely.

Regional participation

In March last year, the company raised a $570 million murabaha facility with a five-year maturity. Murabaha financing is a cost-plus-profit arrangement compliant with Islamic finance standards.

That loan, which was Nogaholding’s debut in the syndicated credit markets, saw the participation of lenders Ahli United Bank, Arab Banking Corp, Arab Petroleum Investments Corp, BNP Paribas, Gulf International Bank, HSBC, Kuwait Finance House, National Bank of Bahrain, Qatar Islamic Bank and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

When it obtained the murabaha loan, Nogaholding said in a statement that it had a five-year investment plan worth over $7 billion. The 2016 loan backed Nogaholding’s investments in projects such as the Bahrain LNG Import Terminal, a modernisation programme for Bahrain Petroleum Co, and expansion of facilities at the Bahrain National Gas Expansion Co.