Kuwait's Burgan Bank issues record 100m Kuwaiti dinar bond



Kuwait's Burgan Bank said on Thursday it had completed a 100 million Kuwaiti dinar bond sale, the largest local currency bond issue ever conducted by a company in the country, and would use the funds to strengthen its capital base after buying Eurobank's Turkish arm Tekfen.

The bond issue was "nearly four times oversubscribed", Salah Al Fulaij, the chief executive of NBK Capital, said. His company was joint lead manager for the sale along with Kamco, a unit of Kuwait Projects Co (Kipco) .

"Since the onset of the global economic crisis, Kuwait's bond market has been starved of quality bond offerings, so it is crucial that local banks help to stimulate supply," the Burgan Bank chairman Majed Al Ajeel said.

The 10-year bond is subordinated paper rated BBB+ by Capital Intelligence. It was issued in fixed- and floating-rate tranches; in the first five years, the fixed-rate bonds pay 5.65 per cent annually while the floating paper pays 3.90 percentage points over the central bank's discount rate, capped at 6.65 per cent. If Burgan decides not to exercise a call option five years after issuance, the coupon on all tranches increases by 0.25 percentage point.

Burgan, which is Kipco's commercial banking arm, last went to market in September 2010, raising $400m with a 10-year dollar-denominated bond.

Corporate dinar-denominated issuance has dominated bond activity in Kuwait since the end of last year, and analysts see scope for the market to expand.

* Reuters

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Siyovush Gulmamadov (TJK) v Rey Nacionales (PHI)

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Alexandru Chitoran (ROM) v Hussein Fakhir Abed (SYR)

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Tohir Zhuraev (TJK) v Omar Hussein (JOR)

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Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

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Tightening the screw on rogue recruiters

The UAE overhauled the procedure to recruit housemaids and domestic workers with a law in 2017 to protect low-income labour from being exploited.

 Only recruitment companies authorised by the government are permitted as part of Tadbeer, a network of labour ministry-regulated centres.

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