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Tue 31 Dec 2019 08:25 AM

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Gulf borrowers pivot from loans with $100bn bond record

Syndicated loans dropped 39% this year as sovereigns and companies sold notes in dollars and euros

Gulf borrowers pivot from loans with $100bn bond record

Issuers seized on low borrowing costs as central banks globally cut rates to counter the economic threat of the US-China trade war, while international investors were lured to the Gulf’s comparatively high yields. 

Gulf borrowers raised more than $100 billion in bond placements this year, a record amount that marked a shift from the more private funding route offered by loans.

Saudi Aramco and Qatar were the biggest issuers, while Egypt, Oman and Saudi Arabia also tapped international bond markets.

Syndicated loans dropped 39% this year as sovereigns and companies sold notes in dollars and euros - a significant development for borrowers that have traditionally avoided airing their finances in public.

Bonds beat loans

Issuers seized on low borrowing costs as central banks globally cut rates to counter the economic threat of the US-China trade war, while international investors were lured to the Gulf’s comparatively high yields. Bond sales in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council climbed 28% to the equivalent of $100.9 billion.

In contrast, syndicated loans slumped as governments across the region delayed state projects, reducing demand for the long-term loans typically used to finance them.

The average yield on Gulf government dollar debt dropped more than 50 basis points from the end of December to a record low of 3.978% this month, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes. Spreads are 173 basis points over U.S. Treasuries, the lowest since 2014.

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