Oman's Bank Muscat picks banks for potential bond - lead

Bond would represent rare international debt offering from the Gulf Arab state

Bank Muscat, Oman's largest lender, has picked six banks to arrange meetings with fixed income investors ahead of a potential benchmark-sized bond issue, a lead manager said on Thursday.

A bond would represent a rare international debt offering from the Gulf Arab state and the first by the lender to be in U.S. dollars since 2004.

Bank Muscat has chosen Citigroup, Credit Agricole , Deutsche Bank, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Standard Chartered for the roadshows, which will take place between March 12-18.

The meetings will start in Riyadh before going to Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland and London.

A potential dollar-denominated bond could follow the meetings, subject to market conditions, with any offering part of the $800 million Euro Medium Term Notes programme the bank established in 2011.

Benchmark-size is traditionally understood to mean $500 million or more.

The last Omani entity to issue was MB Petroleum Services, which raised $320 million from a high-yield bond offering in 2010.

Bank Muscat, rated A- by Standard & Poor's and A1 by Moody's, announced last month that it had agreed a 75.1 million rials ($195.1 million) equity investment from the International Finance Corp.

The bank expects its credit growth to be around 14-15 percent this year, driven by high government spending and higher wages for local citizens, its chief operating officer was quoted as saying earlier this month.

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