Saudi Aramco to raise funds through sukuk issuance

The world’s largest oil company has hired Citigroup, First Abu Dhabi Bank and Goldman Sachs as advisers

Moody's Investors Service assigned a (P)A1 rating to Saudi Aramco’s new sukuk programme. EPA
Moody's Investors Service assigned a (P)A1 rating to Saudi Aramco’s new sukuk programme. EPA

Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil-exporting company, is issuing US dollar-denominated, sharia-compliant bonds as it aims to raise funds to boost its finances.

The company hired a number of banks including Al Rajhi Capital, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, First Abu Dhabi Bank and Goldman Sachs to advise on the sukuk offering, it said in a statement on Monday to the Tadawul stock exchange, where its shares trade. The company did not disclose the value of the offer.

“The net proceeds from each issue of trust certificates will be used by Saudi Aramco for general corporate purposes or for any other purpose specified in the final terms for a series of trust certificates,” the state-owned oil company said.

Saudi Aramco reported a 30 per cent rise in first-quarter profit as revenue rose on the back of higher oil prices and an improved economic environment. Profit during the period reached $21.7 billion while revenue jumped to $72.5bn.

Brent, the international oil benchmark, was trading above $71 per barrel on Monday morning as Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries continue to cut output to support oil markets.

West Texas Intermediate, the key gauge for US oil, was trading above $69 per barrel at 10:20am UAE time.

Saudi Aramco also aims to list the bond on the London Stock Exchange’s main market for trading, it said in the statement.

Companies in the Gulf have been taking advantage of low rates to raise debt as the global economy gradually emerges from an economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other banks including HSBC, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, NCB Capital, Riyad Capital, SMBC Nikko and Standard Chartered Bank are also advising the company, according to the statement.

The planned sale would be its first since November, when it raised $8bn from a non-shariah compliant offering.

Moody's Investors Service assigned a (P)A1 rating to Saudi Aramco’s new sukuk programme, citing its large operations, a strong financial profile with low production costs and modest debt.

“Saudi Aramco has excellent liquidity with consolidated cash balances and operational cash flows more than sufficient to meet group debt maturities, investment commitments and dividends over the next 12 to 18 months,” Moody’s said.

The company had $54.1bn of cash and cash equivalents as of March 31. It has total reported group debt worth $143.7bn, out of which $17.7bn is due within the next 12 months, the ratings agency said.

Saudi Aramco's liquidity is further bolstered by its “undrawn $10bn multi-tranche revolving credit facility that it maintains at the corporate level and $12.4bn in cash proceeds that will be received as part of its recent lease and leaseback transaction related to its crude oil pipeline network", Moody's said.

Published: June 7, 2021 12:08 PM

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