Saudi Arabia hires Goldman, SocGen for bond meetings in Europe

The kingdom is considering issuing its first euro-denominated bonds this year

Saudi Arabia has hired Goldman Sachs and Societe Generale to help arrange meetings with fixed income investors in the coming days, sources familiar with the matter said, potentially paving the way for the kingdom to launch its first bonds in euros.

Riyadh began issuing international bonds in 2016 after lower oil prices hit its finances. Since then, it has become one of the biggest international debt issuers, having sold nearly $60bn in US dollar-denominated bonds.

Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said in April the kingdom was considering issuing its first euro-denominated bonds this year, as it looks to diversify its funding base.

The head of the Saudi Debt Management Office (DMO), part of the Ministry of Finance, reiterated in an interview with Reuters last month that the country was looking at potentially issuing debt in euros as part of its “medium term debt strategy.”

The DMO, Goldman Sachs and Societe Generale did not immediately respond to comment requests on the planned investor meetings.

It is not clear whether the meetings will lead to an actual euro-denominated bond issue, but one of the sources familiar with the matter said that was the likely outcome.

“It is not a non-deal roadshow, but it’s not a deal announcement. It’s in between,” said the source.

So-called non-deal roadshows are investor meetings not tied to a specific issuance.

The meetings will start on Monday June 17 in London and end on June 25 in Munich, a second source said.

Representatives of the Saudi government will also meet investors in Paris, Zurich, Milan, Amsterdam, The Hague, and Frankfurt.

Saudi Arabia, rated A1 by Moody’s and A+ by Fitch, is also planning to issue up to $5bn in international sukuk, or Islamic bonds, in the third quarter of this year, the head of the DMO told Reuters.

In January, the kingdom raised $7.5bn in bonds attracting over $27.5bn in demand in what was seen as a vote of market confidence for the kingdom after its reputation was damaged by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.