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Large Cap4,019 -0.10
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GFH 0.5 1,361,733
QNBK 135 62,706
BKSB 0.14 70,617
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DANA 0.62 13,288,208
EEC 18.02 328,623
ALINMA 16.47 22,194,374

GCC Debt Market Tracker

Source: NCB Capital

GCC Debt Market Tracker

Debt markets in the GCC experienced renewed activity over 2Q09 and 3Q09, with conventional issues recording strong growth. Landmark events included Dubai’s USD10bn bond sale in February followed by back-to-back bond offerings in April by Abu Dhabi and Qatar. This paved the way for issues by government-linked entities with corporate conventional issues in the GCC rising by 120% over 2008 to touch USD11.7bn by end-3Q09. Improving economic and business fundamentals due to the oil price recovery and government stimulus measures have been critical for the debt market revival, which has further benefited from falling CDS spreads. Sukuk markets, by contrast, have been more lethargic, although asset price stabilization and debt restructuring needs offer opportunities for 4Q09.

• New debt issuances in the GCC touched USD36.9bn by end-3Q09, a 64% rise over 2008. Conventional debt instruments accounted for 87% of the total. The 128% rise in conventional issues until 3Q09 is in stark contrast to the 25% fall the segment experienced in 2008. GCC sovereigns led this recovery by raising USD20bn worth conventional debt during 1Q09–3Q09, a bulk of it coming from Dubai (USD10bn), Abu Dhabi (USD3bn) and Qatar (USD3bn).

• Bond sales by Abu Dhabi and Qatar paved the way for a slew of corporate issuances by government-linked entities. Over 2Q09 and 3Q09, corporate conventional bonds worth USD7.5bn and USD3.7bn were sold in the UAE and Qatar respectively. The sovereign issues led to the emergence of imputed yield curves, enabling the markets to determine better spreads for debt raised by government-backed companies. This would encourage other corporates in the GCC to tap debt capital at a time of constrained bank credit and subdued IPO markets.

• Sukuk markets remain subdued this year, mainly due to a fall in issuances in the UAE, whose share in total GCC sukuk issuances fell from 63% in 2008 to a mere 9% this year. The region experienced a 44% fall in sukuk issuances this year until 3Q09 despite Saudi Electric Company’s USD1.86bn issue, the largest in the world. However, as economies and asset markets revive, sukuk issuances are expected to rise with spreads, currently higher than those of conventional bonds, set to come down.

• GCC debt investors continue to face challenges in areas such as default with some corporate sukuk issuers failing to roll over debt. Asymmetric information remains another sore point, the uncertainty regarding Dubai’s debt obligations being the most notable. Even now, tangible plans are yet to emerge to utilize Dubai’s new debt, especially in restructuring the finances of troubled government entities.

• Secondary trading, a key link in vibrant debt markets, is currently largely missing in the GCC. However, the launch in June of Saudi Arabia’s first exchange-traded bond and sukuk market promises progress over time. Nonetheless, trading activity has been low with total value and number of trades declining since the launch of the platform. This is expected to continue in the short term until the market attains greater scale and maturity.

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