Oman said to cut borrowing plans as it turns to asset sales

Oman will likely raise between $2 billion and $3 billion in bonds and loans
Oman said to cut borrowing plans as it turns to asset sales
Oman, with an expected budget deficit of 9 percent of gross domestic product this year, has been slow to implement reforms following the crash in oil prices in 2014.
By Bloomberg
Thu 21 Feb 2019 12:19 PM

Oman plans to slash its borrowing requirements for 2019 by as much as 70 percent and rely on asset sales to plug one of the largest budget deficits among oil exporters, according to a senior government official.

The Gulf Arab monarchy will likely raise between $2 billion and $3 billion in bonds and loans, the official said on condition of anonymity because the plans haven’t been made public. The budget had listed debt requirements of about $6.2 billion.

Oman is working with legal advisers to update its bond program and will tap the market before early May. The country plans to plug its funding gap using dividends and capital gains received from Oman Oil Co.’s stake sale of the Khazzan field, the official said. An additional $1 billion will come from the ownership transfer of some gas pipelines to Oman Gas Co., he said.

"The market was expecting $6 billion of supply, if we get less and if we see evidence of fiscal consolidation and discipline in Oman we should see spreads tighten," Abdul Kadir Hussain, head of fixed-income asset management at Dubai-based investment bank Arqaam Capital Ltd.

The country’s dollar bonds due in January 2028 gained the most on record, with the yield falling 36 basis points to 6.46 percent by 12:25 p.m. on Thursday.

The plan is helping to pare losses in Oman’s bonds as the country grapples with volatile oil prices. The yield on dollar-denominated securities due in 2028 had risen almost 100 basis points since the end of September through Wednesday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Oman, with an expected budget deficit of 9 percent of gross domestic product this year, has been slow to implement reforms following the crash in oil prices in 2014. Since then, its debt as a share of economic output has risen 10 fold to 50 percent. Fitch Ratings downgraded the country’s debt to junk in December, fueling a sell-off in the nation’s bonds.

Moody’s Investors Service is the only rating company that has Oman at investment grade, though it’s just one level above junk.

The government official said some of the needed borrowing will come from tapping a $1.2 billion loan backed by the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. Any additional funding will come through domestic borrowing, the official said.

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