Saudi Aramco hires banks for debut dollar Islamic bond sale
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Saudi Aramco hires banks for debut dollar Islamic bond sale

Saudi Aramco hires banks for debut dollar Islamic bond sale

The firm is raising cash to help fund its commitment to pay out $75bn in dividends

Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest energy company, has hired banks for its first ever dollar-denominated Islamic bonds.

The state-controlled company may offer three tranches of notes due in three years, five years and 10 years, according to a person familiar with the matter. Islamic bonds, or sukuk, comply with the religion’s teachings, including its ban on interest.

The firm is raising cash to help fund its commitment to pay out $75bn in dividends, a pledge Aramco made to drum up support for its initial public offering. But with the spread of the coronavirus and widespread lockdowns curbing demand for oil last year, the price of Brent crude plunged to just below $16 a barrel at one point in 2020, the lowest since 1999.

That prompted Aramco to reduce spending, cut jobs and sell non-core assets. The price of oil, Saudi Arabia’s main source of revenue, has since climbed more than four-fold to over $70 a barrel. And while the company’s first-quarter profits soared — thanks to the recovery in both crude and gas — its free cash flow fell short of the $18.75bn needed to pay the dividend for the period.

The planned sale would its first since November, when it raised $8bn from a non-Shariah compliant offering. Its debut offering of $12bn a little over a year earlier was also hefty by Middle Eastern corporate bond standards.

Aramco hired more than 10 banks from around the world to organize bond investor calls from Monday, according to the person familiar with the matter.

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