Saudi Aramco said on Nov. 16 it had hired banks for a multitranche U.S. dollar-denominated bond issuance, as the world’s largest oil company seeks cash amid lower oil prices.
Gulf issuers have shown no sign of slowing this year’s blitz of issues on international debt markets as they work to plug finances hit by weaker oil prices and the coronavirus crisis.
Issuances from the region so far this year have already shot through 2019’s record, again surpassing $100 billion.
Goldman Sachs, Citi, HSBC, JPMorgan , Morgan Stanley and NCB Capital were hired to arrange investor calls starting on Nov. 16 before the planned transaction, Aramco said in a bourse filing.
Other banks involved in the deal include BNP Paribas , BOC International, BofA Securities , Credit Agricole, First Abu Dhabi Bank , Mizuho, MUFG, SMBC Nikko and Societe Generale, a document issued by one of the banks on the deal showed.
The oil giant, which made its debut in the international debt markets last year by raising $12 billion after receiving more than $100 billion in orders, did not detail the size of the latest proposed issuance.
It planned a benchmark multitranche offering consisting of tranches for three, five, 10, 30 and/or 50 years, subject to market conditions, the document said. Benchmark bonds are generally at least $500 million per tranche.
“The backdrop is supportive,” said a debt banker on the deal, citing a $1 billion Islamic bond issuance last week from Dubai Islamic Bank, which achieved record low yields.
Aramco needs cash to pay $37.5 billion in dividends for the second half of 2020 and to fund its $69.1 billion acquisition of 70% of Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC), paid by installments until 2028. It raised a $10 billion loan this year.
“In a world searching for yield there should be no shortage of demand. But persistent low oil prices and the threat that poses to long-term cash generation should be reflected in pricing,” said Hasnain Malik, head of equity strategy at Tellimer.
Ratings agency Fitch revised its outlook last week on Aramco to negative from stable, a day after similar action on the sovereign of Saudi Arabia, which holds a controlling stake in the oil giant. The government's finances are heavily reliant on the hydrocarbon industry.
"This reflects the influence the state exerts on the company through strategic direction, taxation and dividends, as well as regulating the level of production in line with OPEC commitments," Fitch said.
Aramco's outstanding U.S. dollar-denominated bonds due in 2029 were trading at 2.05% on Nov. 16, a slightly higher yield than Saudi government paper with a similar maturity, Refinitiv data showed.
A bond prospectus, seen by Reuters, detailed risks for investors, including the COVID-19 virus and the Saudi government's decisions on oil production and spare capacity.
"Saudi Aramco's costs of complying with such decisions, may not maximize returns for Saudi Aramco," the prospectus said, citing possible restrictions on its oil output.
Aramco reported a 44.6% drop in third-quarter net profit this month as the pandemic continued to choke demand and weigh on crude prices.
Around 160 km (100 miles) of the gas pipeline, which will supply Russian gas to Germany and other European countries, remains to be laid, the consortium behind the project said earlier on Dec. 23.
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia signed on Dec. 24 an agreement and a memorandum of understanding on dividing the Neutral Zone, which contains jointly-operated oilfields, between the two countries, Kuwait's state-run news agency (KUNA) said.
A federal judge ruled late Tuesday that the Interior Department violated federal law by failing to take into account the climate impact of its oil and gas leasing in Wyoming.