Iraq eyes first independent bond sale in a decade

Iraq eyes first independent bond sale in a decade

Iraq is bidding to make its first independent return to the capital markets in greater than a decade, canvassing buyers’ curiosity in a five-year bond after efficiently launching a US-backed $1bn fundraising earlier this yr.

The oil-rich however war-ravaged Middle Eastern nation has appointed three banks as bookrunners and will probably be assembly with potential buyers in the approaching days.

In late 2015 Iraq referred to as off plans to return to the bond markets for the first time for the reason that official finish of US occupation, citing the excessively excessive value buyers have been demanding in order to purchase into the issuance.

Its try to revive the plan final yr was additionally deserted, earlier than it succeeded in elevating $1bn of five-year bonds in January this yr. That sale was assured by the US and paid a coupon of two.149 per cent.

The new bond is being provided to buyers with out a US assure, leaving them depending on Iraq’s personal credit score high quality.

The Republic of Iraq has a high-risk credit standing of B minus from each S&P and Fitch Ratings.

Fitch in March revised its outlook upwards from unfavourable to steady, citing an improved fiscal place. The price range deficit narrowed to eight.1 per cent of gross home product in 2016, from 12.three per cent the earlier yr, and the ranking company forecasts it is going to fall additional to five.1 per cent this yr.

Baghdad agreed a $5.4bn IMF bailout programme final summer season which, Fitch mentioned, “has helped Iraq’s financing options”. The nation has additionally obtained funding from the World Bank and bilateral challenge loans.

Iraq has $2.7bn of bonds excellent that have been offered in 2006, however has issued no new long-term debt in the previous decade.

Its bid to return to the capital markets is the most recent signal of a buoyant setting for sovereign debt issuers, coming two days after Greece raised €3bn in its first deal since 2014, and a month after Argentina issued debt with a 100-year maturity.

Iraq will maintain a collection of investor conferences in the approaching days with a view to drum up urge for food for the dollar-denominated, long-dated, benchmark-scale bond, and has mandated Citi, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan as joint bookrunners on the deal.

Investors who purchase into the bond will probably be taking up an unsure political and financial state of affairs. The nation’s financial system was badly hit by falling oil costs and regional observers concern the waning energy of Isis may precipitate additional instability.

Jan Dean, head of analysis at rising markets specialist Ashmore Group, mentioned the prospect of an Iraq bond was interesting.

“There is a lot of bad noise of course because there are real problems but that has not impacted on Iraq’s ability to pay,” he mentioned. “So you get a nice risk premium compared to other countries in the region. Iraq is in a bad neighbourhood but it has done a lot of adjustment to lower oil prices and we feel they are able to service their debts.”

Even with out an specific US assure, any new Iraqi debt issuance could be regarded by buyers as having “the implicit backing” of the US, Mr Dean mentioned, given the geopolitical regional significance of the nation “remaining in the US sphere of influence”.