By Raissa Kasolowsky
UPDATE 1: Exec says bank could tap into $2bn note programme set-up last year.
Commercial Bank of Dubai, the emirate's third-largest lender by market value, has no exposure to troubled Saudi firms Saad Group and Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Bros, a senior executive said on Tuesday."We do not have any exposure to either," John Tuke, deputy general manager for treasury and asset management, told Reuters.
At least five banks in the UAE, including Mashreqbank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, have exposure to the Saudi firms, according to banking sources or the banks themselves.
The privately owned Saudi firms are restructuring debt of around $10 billion, according to media reports. This includes loans of around $6.3 billion, according to TRLPC data.
CBD, which is 20 percent owned by the Dubai government, focuses primarliy on corporate banking.
Tuke said CBD could tap into a $2 billion note programme it set up last year but has yet to access, if the UAE passes a law guaranteeing local banks' bonds.
Last week, a UAE advisory council approved a bill to allow the government to guarantee debt instruments issued by local banks in a bid to boost the bond market. The law now needs the approval of the UAE president.
"Assuming we get support from our board of directors, we are likely to participate in the (government) programme and issue from our existing EMTN (Euro Medium Term Note) programme before the end of the year," he said.
Tuke declined to specify an amount for the potential issue, but said the benchmark tended to be around a minimum of $500 million.
A global credit squeeze has virtually halted lending from international to regional banks, but the new law guaranteeing bonds should encourage a return of appetite, Tuke said. (Reuters)