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

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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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