Emirates NBD bond snapped up quickly

An uptick of debt listings for Dubai's government related entities on the emirate's two exchanges.

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The UAE's biggest lender by assets yesterday listed its US$750 million (Dh2.75 billion) conventional bond on the Nasdaq Dubai.

The move by Emirates NBD follows an uptick of Dubai government-related entities seeking to list their debt on the emirate's two exchanges. Emirates NBD's bond was 3.5 times oversubscribed, with more than 160 orders from regional and international investors, the exchange said in an emailed statement.

Almost half of the bond was allocated to investors in the Middle East, and the remainder was split between investors in Asia and investors in Europe.

Dubai's Government in January listed both sukuk and conventional bonds on the Dubai Financial Market, the emirate's primary exchange, with a total value of $1.25bn.

Dewa, the Dubai utilities company owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai, listed a $1bn sukuk on the Nasdaq Dubai. Emirates Airline followed suit shortly after with a tranche of similar size.

The wave of issuances comes after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, committed the emirate to become the top global hub for the $300bn Islamic bond market.

Essa Kazim, the chairman of Borse Dubai, which owns the emirate's financial markets, said recently that if the Dubai Government and related companies issued debt in sukuk, and listed them on local rather than overseas markets, it would make the emirate the leader in world sukuk listing.

"The exchange looks forward to welcoming further conventional bonds and sukuk, from issuers both in the region and beyond, as it continues to enhance its infrastructure and expand the range of services that it offers to market participants," said Mr Kazim.

In February, the bourse launched an initiative to connect top executives at publicly listed companies with brokers and investors. The first of those engagements began with DP World, the world's biggest port operator.

The Nasdaq Dubai has kick-started an aggressive marketing campaign to improve investor interest for its stocks and bonds amid lacklustre trading volumes of late, an absence of initial public offerings and a delisting.

"We'll have to see how much trading is on the exchange for bonds," said Anastasios Dalgiannakis, the head of institutional trading at Mubasher Financial Services in Dubai.

"The bulk of bond trading is normally done over the counter, but it's definitely positive to list high- profile bonds on the exchange."