TAQA, GIB to price bonds in late-year Gulf flurry

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Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) is preparing to price a two-tranche dollar-denominated bond issue, maturing 2018 and 2023, after roadshows conclude on Tuesday, arranging banks said.

TAQA, which is 75 percent owned by the Abu Dhabi government, joins Gulf International Bank in pricing new issues as regional borrowers line up to get deals away before investors close books for the year.

TAQA, which is buying a number of BP's North Sea assets, said last week it had hired banks to arrange investor meetings ahead of a benchmark-sized issue, typically at least US$500m.

TAQA is a frequent bond issuer and familiar to international investors, in part due to its global profile. At the end of the third quarter, it had a cash position of AED3.5bn (US$950m) as well as AED14.8bn (US$4bn) worth of unused credit facilities.

The company has US$1.75bn in bond maturities next year. It last tapped markets for a dollar-denominated issue last December with a US$1.5bn two-tranche bond to refinance debt.

TAQA announced last week that it bought a 53.2 percent operating interest in an oil block in Iraqi Kurdistan from General Exploration Partners and earlier this year bought a 50 percent stake in Kurdish power plant Chamchamal.

BNP Paribas, Citigroup, HSBC Holdings , National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Standard Chartered are mandated to arrange the deal.

Bahrain-based Gulf International Bank is a less familiar name in the global fixed income community, although it too benefits from strong state-ownership.

GIB released early price talk for a five-year bond on Tuesday at a spread of 165 to 175 basis points over midswaps. The issue size is yet to be determined, and it will be GIB's first dollar deal in seven years, according to IFR Markets.

GIB is 97.2 percent owned by the Saudi government, a level of risk international investors are likely to be more comfortable with.

"GIB will see more Saudi interest, but interest for TAQA will be global," a regional fixed income trader said, declining to be identified.

Earlier this year, GIB conducted investor meetings in Malaysia for a possible Islamic bond, or sukuk, under a MYR3.5bn programme but no issue has yet materialised.

Other shareholders are Gulf sovereign wealth funds including Kuwait Investment Authority and Qatar Holding.

GIB picked itself, JP Morgan Chase Inc, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Barclays Plc, Standard Chartered Plc and Societe Generale to arrange the deal.

The Kingdom of Morocco also concludes roadshows this week for a debut dollar issue.

Last week, International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) priced a US$2.9bn equivalent dual-currency bond. Gulf Investment Corp also priced a US$500m five-year bond in late November, its first dollar deal since 2005.

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