Aramco markets five-tranche bonds, seeking cash amid cheap oil

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DUBAI – Saudi Aramco began marketing a five-tranche U.S. dollar-denominated bond sale on Tuesday, as the world’s largest oil producer seeks cash after low oil prices dented its finances.

The move is part of an onslaught on international debt markets by Gulf issuers seeking to plug finances hit by the pandemic and weak oil prices, which has pushed regional issuance past last year’s record to surpass $100 billion again.

Aramco needs the money to pay dividends of $37.5 billion for the second half of 2020 and fund its $69.1 billion purchase of 70% of Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC).

It raised a loan of $10 billion this year, to be paid by installments until 2028, to back that acquisition.

Aramco gave initial price guidance of around 140 basis points (bps) over U.S. Treasuries (UST) for a three-year tranche, around 155 bps over UST for five-year bonds, around 175 bps over UST for 10-year notes, around 205 bps over UST for a 30-year tranche and around 230 bps over UST for 50-year bonds, the document showed.

There has been no official indication of size but Aramco’s second foray into the international debt markets is expected to be sizeable, after raising $12 billion in its debut bond issuance last year.

“An issuer like this doesn’t usually print tranches smaller than $1.5 billion or thereabouts,” a banker on the deal said.

Last year, Aramco priced inside the sovereign of Saudi Arabia’s curve, but financial sources expect its new bonds to be around 10 bps wider, suggesting investors see a slightly higher risk profile after this year’s drop in oil prices.

Citi, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and NCB Capital were hired as active book runners, a document issued by one of the banks on the deal showed.

Other banks involved in the deal include BNP Paribas, BOC International, BofA Securities, Credit Agricole, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Mizuho, MUFG, SMBC Nikko and Societe Generale, the document showed.

Reuters

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