UAE Federal Bank to Sell Bond Following Passage of Debt Law

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Burj Khalifa tower, UAE
The Burj Khalifa tower, center, stands among city skyscrapers and the Address Sky View, right, under construction by developers Emaar Properties PJSC, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. Transformed into a flamboyant city state from an impoverished Gulf port in less than 50 years, Dubai defied geology to build skyscrapers and elaborately shaped islands in the sea. Photographer: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg

A federal lender in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be the first to utilize the country’s newly effective debt law by selling its first bond later this month, according to a senior government official.

Emirates Development Bank, a state-owned institution that provides financing to citizens and small and medium-sized enterprises, plans a $750 million bond sale in February, its first debt issuance since the institution started operating in 2015, Younis Al Khoori, undersecretary at the U.A.E. Ministry of Finance, said Saturday in a Bloomberg TV interview from Dubai.

Proceeds will be passed on to the UAE economy through loans to SMEs and other entities, as well as for housing, providing cost savings, Al Khoori said. “We are aiming for a certain yield and hopefully the market will not change much over the coming few weeks,” he said.

The UAE passed a law in October allowing the federal government to issue sovereign debt for the first time, enabling its seven emirates to benefit from a higher credit rating and lower borrowing costs. Larger sheikhdoms in the federation, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, already sold bonds, but the new law gives its less wealthy emirates access to debt at lower interest rates.

The Emirates Development Bank can sell as much as $5 billion in bonds under its establishment mandate approved by the council of ministers, Al Khoori said.

The Finance Ministry doesn’t intend to issue any public debt currently because the 2020-21 budget cycle has already been approved, the undersecretary said. The ministry will work with the prime minister’s office to determine any debt-sale needs for the following budget, he said.

The ministry is also working closely with the UAE central bank to come up with clear policies for issuing debt instruments to manage liquidity as part of Basel 3 requirements under the new law, Al Khoori said.