Known for a wide range of high-profile investments into companies like automotive heavyweight McLaren Group and metals giant Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), Mumtalakat – Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund – is doubling down on its search for investment opportunities that have a lasting positive impact on the real economy. Several months after it issued a debut sukuk and ahead of its 15-year anniversary, we spoke with Mahmood H Alkooheji, CEO of Mumtalakat, about the fund’s shifting investment and internationalisation strategy, and why the rising prevalence of privatisation in the GCC is a huge investment opportunity.
As rates continue to fall in many parts of Asia, investors have increasingly turned to emerging markets in their hunt for yield. But given their generally cautious and conservative approach to investment, many have favoured so-called ‘safe emerging markets’. Now, as growth begins to soften in China, a growing number are turning their attention to the GCC’s corporate credit market to find secure, high-yielding opportunities.
In the face of relatively abundant banking sector liquidity and stabilising oil prices, CFOs and treasurers have rightly questioned the need to shift their funding focus away from the region’s deep-pocketed lenders. With the global growth outlook looking more uncertain, new trade wars becoming a near daily feature of the global policy discussion, and in light of recent moves to bolster the development of the domestic financial sector, should borrowers wait for the next liquidity crisis before de-risking their funding strategies and orienting themselves towards greater financial diversification?
UAE-based lifestyle conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim broke new ground earlier this year when the company placed the world’s first benchmark-sized corporate green sukuk. Bonds & Loans spoke with John Arentz, Head of Treasury at Majid Al Futtaim, about the company’s green capital markets debut, the strategy underpinning the transaction, and why – green bond or not – treasurers need to bolster their ESG credentials in the face of a fast-changing investment landscape.
For Asian investors searching for returns across emerging markets, the GCC has long been considered a relatively low-risk, higher-yielding option. But with geopolitical tensions reaching a boiling point, and a number of GCC states fiscally exposed to oil price swings, former safe havens could become a riskier bet.
A closer look at the major strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats influencing the investment and debt capital markets climate in the GCC economies.
With the local economy starting to turn a corner and new regulations and incentives coming on stream, UAE-based property developers have much to celebrate. But looking beyond the large publicly-traded Emaars and Damacs of the region, many smaller developers appear caught in a low liquidity environment unlikely to ease anytime soon. This is prompting many to hunt for alternative sources of funding, often for the first time.
The growth of the GCC debt capital markets in the first decade of this century was reasonably stunted as the region’s need for debt funding was negligible in the face of abundant liquidity ensuing from high oil prices. Due in large part to its sources of revenue and the prevalence of currency pegs, the region’s borrowers have predominately relied on US dollar funding. But as the region’s corporate entities grow and become more sophisticated, requiring deeper and more diverse domestic funding markets, that looks set to change – with regional governments taking the lead.
The UAE-based aluminium giant timed its return to the loan market perfectly with a jumbo deal that attracted participation of 25 financial institutions and was arranged in less than three months.
The benchmark-sized international debut sukuk received more than USD5bn worth of orders – a similar level of oversubscription to the recent Saudi Aramco jumbo bond, a tremendous start to the Saudi dairy giant’s new USD2bn Islamic finance programme.
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