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First Gulf Bank plans to sell its first sukuk

First Gulf Bank plans to sell its first Islamic bonds

Gulf News

Dubai: First Gulf Bank plans to sell its first Islamic bonds from a $3.5 billion (Dh12.9 billion) sukuk programme as a scarcity of offerings drive yields to six-year lows.

Abu Dhabi's third-largest lender by assets said last week it would start meeting fixed-income investors in the UAE, Asia and Europe. The yield on Abu Dhabi-backed Tourism Development & Investment Co.'s 4.949 per cent sukuk maturing in October 2014 and rated the third-best investment grade at Standard & Poor's, fell 30 basis points since June 30 to 2.72 per cent on July 22, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Investment-grade sukuk from the Gulf are appealing given the volatility in global credit markets amid concern over the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, according to Al Mal Capital PSC and National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC. Economic growth in the UAE, the second-biggest Arab economy after Saudi Arabia, may quicken to 3.3 per cent in 2011, the fastest pace in three years, the International Monetary Fund said in April.

"FGB is a solid name backed by Abu Dhabi-based investors, which gives the issue a lot of credibility in addition to having a good credit rating," Parth Kikani, a senior analyst at Al Mal Capital in Dubai, said in emailed comments on July 21. "Now they would be able to sell the Islamic paper at least 70 to 90- basis-points cheaper" than last year, he said.

The lender in November delayed a bond sale because interest rates weren't favourable and sold 200 million Swiss francs of five-year notes in January.

First Gulf Bank's dollar bonds are rated A2 by Moody's Investors Service, the sixth-highest investment grade ranking, and the fifth-best A+ by Fitch.