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Tue 9 Nov 2010 09:31 PM

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Qatar putting together plan to raise credit rating

Earlier this year, Gulf Arab state sold $3.3 billion of debt to local banks

Qatar putting together plan to raise credit rating
CREDIT RATING: Qatar, has an AA rating from Standard & Poor’s on its long-term debt

Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said the government is putting together a program to boost the credit rating of the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas.

The government is working on “a comprehensive plan to raise the credit rating to the level of advanced industrial countries,” Sheikh Hamad said in remarks broadcast today on Al Jazeera television.

Qatar, forecast by the International Monetary Fund to have the world’s fastest growing economy this year, has an AA rating from Standard & Poor’s on its long-term debt, the highest of any Arabian Gulf country.

The rating is two levels below that of the United States.

Qatar and Qatari companies have sought to tap investor appetite for higher yields over the past year by issuing bonds and Islamic sukuks.

The country sold $3.3 billion of debt to local banks earlier this year after receiving $28 billion of orders for a $7 billion sovereign bond sale in November 2009.

Qatar Islamic Bank issued sukuks and Qatar Telecom QSC sold bonds in the past three months.

Driven by rising natural gas exports, Qatar’s gross domestic product may expand 21 percent next year, compared with 16 percent in 2010, Finance Minister Yousef Kamal said November 2.

The IMF is forecasting 16 percent growth this year.

Qatar’s annual capacity to produce liquefied natural gas will increase to 77 million tons a year by early 2011 after the start of two of the world’s largest liquefaction plants.

Qatar will also start operating the world’s biggest gas-to-liquids fuel plant.

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