Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Bhd (Exim Bank) plans to sell a debut Islamic bond in the global market, the second by an Asian company in 2013 after a two-year absence.
The state-owned trade finance provider invited proposals from banks to arrange US$1 billion of dollar-denominated debt for a possible second-quarter offering, said three people familiar with the deal.
The lender aims to increase the proportion of Shariah loans to 30 per cent of the total in two years from 20 per cent now, Chief Executive Officer Adissadikin Ali said in an interview yesterday in Kuala Lumpur, declining to comment on the potential issuance.
Exim Bank will become only the fourth Asian corporate to ever tap dollar sukuk investors after Malaysia’s Sime Darby Bhd, the world’s biggest palm-oil producer, sold US$800 million of notes in January. The government’s US currency Islamic bonds maturing in 2021 yield 2.92 per cent, compared with 3.55 per cent for similar ringgit debt.
"More Asian companies will tap the dollar sukuk market given the pace of regional growth and overseas expansion," Mohamed Azahari Kamil, the Kuala Lumpur-based chief executive officer of Asian Finance Bank Bhd, the Malaysian unit of Qatar Islamic Bank SAQ, said in an interview yesterday. "Islamic borrowing costs for well-rated corporates are cheap."
A sale would be the Kuala Lumpur-based institution’s second foray into the international debt arena. It sold US$500 million of five-year notes that don’t comply with the Quran’s ban on interest in May at a coupon rate of 2.875 per cent. Those securities are rated A3 by Moody’s Investors Service and A- by Fitch Ratings, the fourth-lowest investment grades and the same ranking as the sovereign.
The 2.875 per cent bonds due in 2017 yielded 1.91 per cent yesterday, down 11 basis points, or 0.11 percentage point, from the end of last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The Bloomberg Malaysian Sukuk Ex-MYR Index of foreign-currency Islamic debt listed in the Southeast Asian nation rose 0.1 per cent last week to 111.682 and is little changed in 2013.
Exim Bank started offering Shariah-compliant loans in 2009 and plans to increase total lending by 30 per cent in 2013 under a five-year initiative introduced in 2011, Adissadikin said. The company is getting enquiries from Malaysian companies operating overseas that are looking to expand, he said.
"Since we aren’t a deposit-taking bank, we need to consider sukuk to raise funds," Adissadikin said. "This option will allow us to pass on the benefits of lower borrowing costs to our customers so they can be competitive."-- Bloomberg