Asian Dollar-Denominated Sukuk Sales to Set Records
BY :ELFFIE CHEW
FEBRUARY 17, 2015
Asia is set for the busiest year for dollar sukuk sales in at least five years as Malaysia’s state oil company plans a record offering and Indonesia’s government seeks to beat rising US borrowing costs.
Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional may sell as much as $7 billion of Islamic notes, the biggest ever foreign-currency sukuk, which will take the amount outstanding from Asia to $19 billion, compared with $76 billion worldwide.
Malaysia, Cagamas and Export Import Bank of Malaysia have also planned offerings for this year, after a combined $4.3 billion from the region in 2014 that was the largest in Bloomberg-compiled data going back to 2010.
Asian issuers of US currency sukuk are looking to take advantage of the rising pool of Islamic banking assets that Ernst & Young forecasts will double to $3.4 trillion by 2018. Petronas, as Malaysia’s only Fortune 500 company is known, is coming to the market just as a slump in crude prices is hurting revenues for the region’s only major oil exporter.
“We are seeing more Asian companies and sovereigns tapping the dollar market because they want to take the opportunity before the Federal Reserve raises interest rates,” Mohamed Azahari Kamil, chief executive of Asian Finance Bank in Kuala Lumpur, said last Thursday.
“Despite the challenges, Petronas will be successful in selling the sukuk because the company is well-managed and is backed by strong fundamentals.”
Indonesia, which last sold Shariah-compliant dollar notes in September 2014, is seeking to return to the fold in the first half of this year.
Malaysia has asked for proposals from banks for a global offering as $1.25 billion of sukuk are due to mature in June. It would be its first sale since 2011.
Petronas is selling debt to raise funds for working capital, a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the process is private, said last Wednesday. Petronas won’t issue a statement on the planned offering.
Malaysia’s top oil producer reported a 14 percent drop in third-quarter profit on Nov. 28 amid a 36 percent decline in Brent crude since June. Net income fell to 12.4 billion ringgit ($3.5 billion) and revenue decreased 1.3 percent to 80.4 billion ringgit. Numbers for the period to December will be issued later this month.
Petronas, which is rated A- by Standard & Poor’s, has $625 million of US currency notes due in August. The company’s only dollar sukuk, sold in 2009 at a coupon of 4.25 percent, matured last year.
The yield on the 2015 non-Islamic debt denominated in the greenback increased one basis point this year to 1.12 percent and the yield on the 2022 securities rose two basis points to 3.43 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The government invited bankers to submit proposals for a dollar sukuk by Wednesday, separate people with knowledge of the matter said last Thursday.
Export Import Bank of Malaysia plans its sale for the final six months of the year.
Cagamas, the nation’s state-owned mortgage provider, has set up a $2.5 billion multicurrency program.
The yield on Malaysia’s 4.646 percent notes maturing in 2021 climbed 24 basis points, or 0.24 percentage point, this month to 2.98 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The yield on Indonesia’s 4.35 percent 2024 debt decreased one basis point to 4.07 percent.
“A name like Petronas should attract interest and will encourage other issuers to follow suit,” said Mohd. Effendi Abdullah, head of Islamic markets at AmInvestment Bank in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s third-biggest sukuk arranger.
“It will give a boost to the Islamic bond market, and may help global sukuk surpass 2012’s record.”
Worldwide offerings of Islamic bonds, including local- currency notes, totaled $46.3 billion in 2014, $500 million short of the all-time high, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Sales have dwindled to $1.7 billion so far in 2015, the worst start to a year since the $561 million in 2010.
While the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the greenback against 10 major peers, climbed 2.9 percent this year, the ringgit has fallen 2.5 percent.
The average yield on US currency sukuk has dropped 13 basis points to 2.92 percent this year, after reaching an 11-month high of 3.28 percent on Dec. 16, according to a Deutsche Bank index.
“The planned sales by Petronas, Malaysia and Indonesia will be positive as they will help ease the shortage of sukuk,” Jesse Liew, Kuala Lumpur-based head of global Islamic bonds at BNP Paribas Investment Partners Malaysia, which has more than $900 million of assets, said on Monday.
“It would be better if they sell in the first quarter as borrowing costs are still low.”