Lender eyes credit rating before sukuk issue plan
April 16 2013 12:08 AM
Troop: Regional expansion prospects.
Troop: Regional expansion prospects.


 Barwa Bank intends to begin the process of securing a credit rating later this year, before the bank might issue a sukuk (Islamic bond), its top executive said yesterday.

“We wanted the ratings agency to look at the H1 numbers and the incremental capital we’re hoping to raise. We’re confident that we will generate the rating we think we merit,” the bank’s chief executive Steve Troop said in an interview.

Qatari banks, including QNB and Doha Bank, have raised additional capital in recent months as they embark on regional expansion and prepare for the Gulf state’s massive infrastructure spending plans, which will extend into the next decade.

Barwa Bank completed a 1.7bn riyal rights issue last year to fund its growth.

“Qatar is on the eve of a very significant investment in infrastructure over the next several years. This represents a once-in-a-professional-lifetime opportunity to grow our business. We want to participate in these opportunities,” Troop said.

Barwa Bank is 37.3% owned by Barwa Real Estate Co, while Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, has 12.1%. The remaining shares are owned by several individuals and Corps, according to the bank’s results statements.

One project in which the bank hopes to participate is Qatar’s planned rail scheme, Troop said, adding that Barwa Bank was part of an Islamic banking consortium looking at the opportunity.

“Those kinds of opportunities won’t require foreign support,” he said.

Doha Bank announced in January that it would seek to increase its capital by 50%. Its 1.55bn riyal rights issue was nearly twice covered by investors in March.

Troop said regional expansion was also a prospect being considered by his bank. “The need to expand overseas is something to bear in mind. That will be with the right assets and the right price. At this stage it would be fair to say we’d be looking at Gulf and Mena (Middle East and North Africa).”

The lender posted a profit of 345mn riyals for 2012, a 41% increase from the previous year.

It has been especially active in the fixed income sector, serving as co-lead arranger on Turkey’s $1.5bn sovereign sukuk deal last September. It was a mandated joint lead manager on Qatar’s bumper $4bn Islamic bond sale last July.

Troop said the bank was in discussions with potential Islamic debt issuers. “We are in conversations. We have a reasonably strong pipeline at this time. There are still significant and deep pools of Islamic liquidity that seek an appropriate investment.”


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