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Maldives hires banks for dollar-denominated Islamic bonds sale - document

03/22/2021 | 03:50am

DUBAI (Reuters) - The government of the Maldives has hired a group of banks to arrange a U.S. dollar-denominated issuance of benchmark sukuk, or Islamic bonds, a document showed on Monday, as the country continues to diversify its borrowing away from China.

Acting through the finance ministry, the government hired the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), Credit Suisse, Emirates NBD Capital and HSBC to arrange a fixed income investor call, the document from one of the banks showed.

Meetings between the parties started on Monday and an issuance of benchmark five-year senior unsecured sukuk will follow, subject to market conditions. Benchmark bonds are generally at least $500 million in size.

Moody's said on Monday it was assigning the planned issuance a B3 rating.

A spokesman for the Maldives' finance ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the bond sale.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has been attempting to wean the Maldives off Chinese debt, following a Beijing-backed infrastructure boom under the previous government that alarmed the United States and traditional ally India.

On taking power in 2019 Solih's party admitted it had no idea of the true size of its debts to China, pledging to improve transparency around its borrowings.

The island archipelago's former president Abdulla Yameen was later sentenced to five years in jail for graft, though he denies the charges.

On Monday the government also announced a tender offer for its outstanding $250 million 7% notes due next year, which it is offering to purchase for cash.

(Reporting by Yousef Saba in Dubai and Alasdair Pal in New Delhi; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

By Yousef Saba and Alasdair Pal

© Reuters 2022
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