(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Company (SATORP), a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Total S.A. of France, issued its debut sukuk Sunday and there are signs that several other potential Saudi issuers are lining up to go to the market preferring to raise funds in this way despite the continuing turmoil in the global financial market and economy.
According to the latest information available Sunday, the SATORP bond issue was 3.5 times oversubscribed.
According to a statement from Saudi Fransi Capital, one of the three joint lead managers and joint bookrunners for the transaction together with Deutsche Securities Saudi Arabia and Samba Capital & Investment Management Company "the aggregate face amount of SATORP's public offering of SR-denominated certificates (the sukuk) will be SR3,749,900,000 and the net proceeds of the offering will be the aggregate face amount after deducting the fees of the joint lead managers and joint bookrunners for the offering."
The Saudi Capital Markets Authority (CMA) in August approved the public offering of sukuk certificates by Arabian Aramco Total Services Company (AATSC), the special purpose company which is issuing the sukuk certificates on behalf of SATORP. The road show for the sukuk started on Sept. 10 for a period of 16 working days.
The final pricing, according to Samba Capital & Investment Management Company, on SATORP's public offering of SR-denominated sukuk certificates "has been set at 6-month SAIBOR (Saudi Arabian Interbank Offered Rate) plus a margin of 95 basis points (bps) per annum."
This pricing is tight given that the yield for the SR1.8 billion Mudaraba sukuk issued by Saudi International Petrochemical Company (Sipchem) issued in June this year was SAIBOR plus 1.75 percent per annum.
The deadline for application forms to be submitted by investors for the offering was Oct. 1, and the final allocation was made two days later, with the deadline for the settlement of the payment being Oct. 1 for retail investors and Sunday for institutional investors. The minimum investment for institutional investors was SR1 million.
The offering, sale and delivery of the three-year SR3.75 billion sukuk, which matures in 2014, is limited solely to Saudi nationals and those other legal persons with a permanent establishment in the Kingdom holding a current commercial registration number issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The sukuk issuance was offered to financial institutions, mutual funds, insurance companies and pension funds as well as individuals, who will be able to subscribe to the sukuk subject to the subscription terms and conditions.
Almost all the major sukuk issuances in the Kingdom over the last few years have been heavily oversubscribed given that they are Saudi riyal-denominated and the offshore documents are under English law jurisdiction and the onshore documents and assets under the laws of Saudi Arabia. The SATORP sukuk is no exception.
The structure of the issuance is a Musharaka sukuk and also involving a forward lease agreement. The issuer, Arabian Aramco Total Services Company (AATSC), and SATORP are the partners under the Musharaka agreement and also co-lessors under the forward lease agreement. SATORP is also the managing partner under the Musharaka agreement and the lessee under the forward lease agreement. The purpose of the Musharaka will be to earn profit from the application of the respective capital contributions from the partners in accordance with the business plan as set out in the Musharaka agreement. The business plan entails the delivery of the project assets and the lease of the lease assets to the Lessee.
The structure of the Sukuk was approved by the Shariah boards of Al-Inma Investment Company, Bank Albilad, Deutsche Bank, Samba Financial Group and Credit Agricole CIB.
The proceeds of the sukuk will be used to finance SATORP's planned 400,000 barrels per day crude oil refinery in Jubail, which will process Arabian Heavy Crude and which is a project sponsored by Saudi Aramco and Total S.A of France. SATORP is 62.5 percent owned by Saudi Aramco and 37.5 percent owned by Total S.A. The total cost of the project is estimated at over 13 billion, and may involve further Islamic finance facilities down the line.
In fact, in October last year, SATORP closed a multi-source 8.5 billion 16-year financing for the Jubail refinery project including 4.01 billion from the Saudi Public Investment Fund and Export Credit Agencies and 4.49 billion from commercial financial institutions. The financing facilities include dual-currency (US dollar and Saudi riyal) commercial loans; dual-currency Islamic financing facilities; ands export credit facilities provided by seven export credit agencies and local developmental agencies. The Islamic finance facilities were lead arranged by Al-Rajhi Bank; Alinma Bank; the Islamic Development Bank and Bank AlJazira.
The state-of-the-art SATORP refinery is scheduled to be commissioned sometime in 2013 and is part of Saudi Aramco's strategy to boost Saudi Arabia's refining capacity by more than 1.7 million barrels a day from the current capacity of 2.1 million barrels a day. This will include production of diesel and jet fuels; 700,000 metric tons per year (t/y) of paraxylene; 140,000 t/y of benzene; and 200,000 t/y of polymer-grade propylene.
The SATORP sukuk underpins growing demand for Islamic financing facilities by Saudi corporates. A few days ago Dar Al-Arkan Real-Estate Development Company (DAAR), the Shariah-compliant developer partner of Khozam Development Real Estate Company, announced that the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) had granted approval for a SR4 billion Islamic financing facility for the company's Qasr Khozam Development project which is located in the south east of Jeddah's central downtown district, covering an area of approximately 4 million square meters.
"This funding will contribute to the project by accelerating the development operations and pushing ahead to the next phase of sending evacuation notifications, the compensation and transfer of ownership of the properties located in the project area. The governmental support of major development projects such as Qasr Khozam Development project proves the government commitment to the success of this project through a true joint venture between the public and private sector to rejuvenate the old downtown district of Jeddah," said DAAR in a statement.
Islamic finance especially sukuk, including project sukuk, is poised to play an important role to finance planned multi-billion dollar infrastructure and industrial developments in the Kingdom. Saudi Aramco's planned project spend alone is estimated in excess of 160 billion of the next decade or so.
Muhammed Al-Jasser, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), has already urged Saudi corporates to think seriously of raising financing through the issuance of sukuk, which he explained, "have a very great potential in the Saudi and Gulf market. The Saudi market is moving from traditional sources of financing such as bank credit to corporate bond and sukuk. This is a development issue and has started to happen. The banks may not be able to meet local funding requirements from traditional sources given the rapid expansion of infrastructure and projects in the Saudi economy. But this also depends on demand and supply dynamics of the market. SAMA encourages banks and corporates to go down the sukuk route. We would like to see the local credit market diversified from bank finance to corporate bonds and sukuk."
The SATORP sukuk indeed follows a number of high profile sukuk issuances out of the Kingdom this year. In May the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah successfully closed its 750 million sukuk offering, which was the latest tranche in its 3.5 billion Islamic Trust Certificates program and priced at mid swap (US Treasuries) plus 35 basis points with a profit rate of 2.35 percent. In June, Saudi International Petrochemical Company (Sipchem) closed a SR1.5 billion Mudaraba sukuk, which was well over-subscribed with the order book reaching SR4.5 billion and was priced at SIBOR plus 1.75 percent. In July, the Saudi Binladin Group successfully closed its SR1 billion 1-year sukuk offering, which was issued through SBG Sukuk Co. and was well oversubscribed attracting orders in excess of SR3 billion. The privately placed sukuk was offered to sophisticated Saudi investors and has a maturity of 364 days and pays a profit rate of 2.5 percent per annum.
Sukuk origination in the Kingdom started in earnest in 2004 with the SR98 million CARAVAN! sukuk, which was a small issuance and which tested market conditions. The big hitters started with the SABIC 1 sukuk in 2006 which to date has issued three sukuk. Other major sukuk issuers in Saudi Arabia have been Saudi Electricity Company with three issuances; the Bin Laden Group with two issuances; Saudi Hollandi Bank with two issuances; and Dar Al-Arkan with three issuances.
The SATORP sukuk, together with the latest Malaysian sovereign sukuk and others in the GCC and ASEAN region, are further indications that the global sukuk market is fast on the road to recovery.