Sales of Malaysian ringgit- denominated Islamic bonds are poised to beat the 2007 record as companies tap into lower borrowing costs to fund government infrastructure projects.
Offerings of the debt rose 76 per cent to RM32.9 billion (US$10.4 billion) this year from the same period in 2010, approaching the all-time high of RM38.7 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Ringgit government bonds yielded 373 basis points less than the average yield on local-currency notes in developing nations on September 22, the biggest gap since July 29, according to JPMorgan’s GBI-EM indexes.
Companies are turning to sukuk as prime minister Najib Razak’s government invites them to take part in a $444 billion development plan to build roads, rail links and power plants. Ringgit debt yields have risen eight basis points this month to September 27, more than three times less than the 26 basis-point increase for domestic emerging-market bonds, JPMorgan data show.
“There’s no shortage of demand in Malaysia as the market is still relatively flush with ringgit liquidity,” Hang Tuah Amin Tajudin, vice president at OCBC Al-Amin Bank, a unit of Singapore’s Oversea Chinese Banking Corp, said in an interview yesterday. “There’s a good chance sukuk sales this year will reach RM40 billion given the pipeline.”
Kuala Lumpur-based power producer Tenaga Nasional Bhd. plans to sell 5 billion ringgit of notes next month, while Dubai-based mortgage firm Tamweel PJSC said it may issue at least $300 million either in ringgit or dollars this year.
Tenaga Nasional is pressing ahead with its sale of bonds that comply with Islam’s ban on interest, Mohamed Rafique Merican, the company’s chief financial officer, said yesterday, even though the European sovereign debt crisis and the faltering US economy is boosting concern that a global recession is looming.
Stocks in the US and Europe dropped yesterday amid growing concern European leaders are divided over how to handle Greece’s debt crisis. The European Commission is resisting a push to impose bigger writedowns on banks’ holdings of Greek debt, according to an official who declined to be identified because the deliberations are private.
Varun Sood, acting chief executive officer at Tamweel, said on September 27 that there is demand for Islamic bonds and the company has hired three banks to manage its issue.
MidCiti Resources Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian property company, plans to raise as much as RM880 million to refinance loans and for working capital, the company said in a stock exchange filing on September 15. Emery Oleochemicals Group, a chemicals producer, plans to sell RM480 million of sukuk in the fourth quarter, Kongkrapan Intarajang, the company’s chief executive officer, said in an e-mail on August 18.
Companies from the Persian Gulf are issuing sukuk in Malaysia as it pioneered Islamic finance 30 years ago and has the world’s biggest market for Shariah-compliant debt. The country is rated A- by Standard & Poor’s, the fourth-lowest investment grade. Malaysia is four levels above nearby Indonesia with its junk ranking of BB+, and four steps below Abu Dhabi at AA. Dubai doesn’t have a credit rating.
Malaysia has attracted companies such as Jeddah, Saudi Arabia-based multilateral lender Islamic Development Bank and general Electric Capital Corp. in the US Both companies’ issues are listed on the Bloomberg Malaysian Sukuk Ex-MYR Index, which measures 10 foreign-currency Islamic bonds sold by corporates and governments in the nation. The gauge rose to 103.378 on September 27 and is up 4.9 per cent this year.
“Malaysian sukuk have an internationally recognised structure that gives investors confidence,” Chan Cheh Shin, who oversees $3 billion as chief investment officer at Kuala Lumpur- based Asian Islamic Investment Management Bhd, said in an interview yesterday. “The rise in yields on Malaysian sukuk was also less volatile than those in other emerging countries.”
The Southeast Asian nation’s 10-year infrastructure plan may draw $10 billion in foreign investment this year, Mustapa Mohamed, the international trade and industry minister, said on July 27.
Gulf Investment Corp., the investment company owned by the six-member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council and based in Kuwait, sold RM1.35 billion of Islamic debt in two portions in February and August this year.
Global sales of sukuk, which pay returns from assets that comply with Islam’s ban on interest, rose to $17.6 billion this year from $10.9 billion in the same period of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Better Than EM
Shariah-compliant notes are outperforming debt in developing nations, with a return of 5.8 per cent in 2011, according to the HSBC/NASDAQ Dubai US Dollar Sukuk Index. Emerging-market bonds gained 3.1 per cent, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBI Global Index shows.
The difference between the average yield for sukuk and the London interbank offered rate narrowed eight basis points, or 0.08 percentage point, to 274 on September 27 and is 35 basis points higher than at the end of last month, according to the HSBC/NASDAQ Dubai US Dollar Sukuk Index. Average yields dropped two basis points to 3.87 per cent and are up 33 basis points from August 31. – Bloomberg
“Most Malaysian companies are issuing bonds because they need funds to refinance loans or for working capital,” Lum Choong Kuan, Kuala Lumpur-based head of fixed-income research at CIMB Investment Bank Bhd., a unit of Malaysia’s second-biggest lender, said in an interview yesterday.
Demand from investors at a government sale of five-year Islamic bonds on September 14 exceeded supply by 2.84 times, compared with 1.91 times on similar-maturity securities sold in May, according to Bank Negara Malaysia’s website. The Treasury has sold 26 billion ringgit of sukuk in 2011, up from 18.5 billion a year earlier, central bank data show.
Malaysian lender AmIslamic Bank Bhd. and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd., the nation’s third-biggest listed palm oil producer, sold Islamic bonds this week.
AmIslamic Bank, a unit of Malaysia’s sixth-largest banking group, sold 600 million ringgit of 10-year notes on September 27 at a yield of 4.4 percent. Kuala Lumpur Kepong sold 300 million ringgit at 3.88 percent on the same day.
The Bloomberg-AIBIM-Bursa Malaysia Sovereign Shariah Index, which tracks the most-traded government debt in Malaysia, dropped to 104.7100 on September 27. The gauge is still up 1.7 percent this quarter, its best three-month performance in data going back to September 2010.
“Our bond market is well-insulated,” Michael Lau, head of debt markets at Kuala Lumpur-based Maybank Investment Bank Bhd., the top sukuk underwriter this year, said in a September 27 interview. “Demand for a good name is still there as can be seen in recent sales.”