Saudi Airports Agency prices record-breaking 15.2 bln riyal sukuk

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Saudi Arabia's state airports operator has priced a 15.2 billion riyal ($4.05 billion) Islamic bond issue, a statement from the company carried by local press said, surpassing the firm's record-breaking debut sukuk in 2012.

The transaction for the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), which oversees the air industry in the kingdom, was almost twice covered by bids from 31 government funds, local banks, insurance and investment companies, according to the Saudi Gazette newspaper.

No details on the lifespan of the sukuk or its pricing level were given in the report.

The success of the transaction was always expected, given the hugely liquid local investor community and the fact the issue is the closest thing available to a Saudi sovereign debt instrument - while the government doesn't issue bonds, GACA's sukuk carries a guarantee from the Ministry of Finance.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to finance expansion of Jeddah's King Abdulaziz Airport and King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh. The Jeddah project is expected to cost 27 billion riyals.

Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in infrastructure projects and revamping many of its airports to cater for growing passenger traffic.

HSBC Holdings' Saudi Arabian unit, the investment banking arm of state-owned National Commercial Bank andStandard Chartered were arrangers of the deal, banking sources told Reuters in June.

GACA's maiden deal, priced in January 2012, totalled 15 billion riyals and was the country's largest-ever local currency bond. It attracted orders from investors worth 3.5 times the final amount.

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