That some of the latest bond issues from the UAE pulled in fairly heavy investor interest is heartening. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Leading UAE banks have come to the bond market, and they are getting a warm response.

Sharjah Islamic Bank priced its $500 million 5-year sukuk at LIBOR plus 285 bps, and received more than $3.4 billion in orders. The bank tightened the spread after it gave an initial price guidance of 285-290 basis points over mid-swap rate, a proof of strong demand.

Leading the Sukuk issuance resurgence is DIB, which listed its sukuk today on Nasdaq Dubai. DIB’s was the first international sukuk issuance by a Gulf bank since the COVID-19 pandemic and the fall in oil prices hit Gulf economies.

The overall participation for the sukuk was good, and getting oversubscribed 4.5 times.

A majority of the funds from these sukuk’s will be used for recapitalization proposes and support the fragile state of SMEs.

The banking sector is likely to take a substantial hit this year on growth, owing to the requirement for increased provisioning ratios.

But these deals should inspire more confidence among other UAE banks with sound fundamentals to tap the sukuk market. Abu Dhabi’s FAB has just issued a 5-year 1.4 billion Chinese yuan bond, for which it got offers worth 1.6 billion Chinese Yuan. The bank also raised a 750 million Hong Kong dollar green bond in Hong Kong.

Emirates REIT hits a low

Looking at specific movement in secondary bond markets, Emirates REIT ‘s sukuk has been in the news. Price of the sukuk in the secondary market tanked from levels of since mid-March.

Various factors, including cyclical nature of UAE’s real estate market as well as the REIT not paying interim dividends, contributed to the current price fall. The REIT also blamed elements for circulating rumors and cause the decline in foreign ownership.

Emirates REIT has reached its lowest level of non-GCC ownership since the IPO, at 29 per cent. In light of continued market volatility, Emirates REIT has now decided to report its revenues and NAV on a quarterly cycle basis.