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Wednesday, 22 February 2023

It’s showtime for our maiden sovereign sukuk issuance

Egypt has pulled the trigger on its maiden sukuk issuance: Egypt is on course to raise USD 1.5 bn from a sale of three-year sukuk, sources with knowledge of the issuance told Enterprise yesterday. The offering was about 3.5x oversubscribed.

Strong demand: The debut issuance landed orders totalling USD 5.8 bn, interest from the joint lead managers, according to a term sheet seen by Bloomberg, while CNBC says the order book topped USD 5.35 bn. The final guidance price looks like it will be somewhere between 11.00% (per Reuters) and 11.125% (± 1/8th) (per Bloomberg), both of which say they have seen term sheets. Initial guidance on yield was around 11.625%.

What’s next? The sharia-compliant bonds will be listed on the London Stock Exchange. The issuance is expected to close later this morning, one of the sources told us.

REMEMBER- The finance will help Egypt replenish stocks after a USD 1.25 bn eurobond repayment due yesterday; those bonds carried an interest rate of 5.577%, according to Reuters.

Moody’s last week gave a (P) B3 rating to a potential USD 5 bn sukuk program which would be used to finance investment and development projects. The rating agency downgraded Egypt’s sovereign credit rating due to the country’s increased vulnerability to external shocks.

BACKGROUND: Egypt has been unable to access fresh finance from the international capital market over the past year due to the knock-on effects of the war in Ukraine and tighter global financial conditions. The sukuk issuance is Egypt’s first international debt sale since last March.

More debt issuances in the pipeline: The sale could pave the way for more issuances this year as the government looks to finance upcoming debt repayments. The Finance Ministry had been planning to issue its maiden USD 500 mn CNY-denominated panda bond in China in 1Q 2023, and previously said it would issue USD 500 mn of sustainable development bonds before the end of the current fiscal year.

Advisors: Our friends at HSBC are acting as lead managers and bookrunners along with Citigroup, Credit Agricole, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. Adsero-Ragy Soliman and Partners and Clifford Chance provided legal advice to the Finance Ministry, and Zaki Hashem & Partners and Linklaters acted as counsel to the joint lead managers.

The issuance was discussed on the airwaves last night, with Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi opining that the strong demand reflected “confidence in the Egyptian economy” (watch, runtime: 2:21). This was echoed by former Blom Bank Egypt deputy managing director Tarek Metwally on the show, who described the sale as a “huge success” despite the economic headwinds at home and abroad (watch, runtime: 7:47). He sees the final guidance prices as “fair” given a rise in the USD index and Moody’s recent downgrade of our sovereign credit rating.

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