Saudi Arabia in record $17.5bn debt sale

Saudi Arabia has completed the biggest ever emerging market bond sale by selling $17.5 billion of debt securities in the Saudi government’s first international offer, according to Reuters.

Saudi Arabia is trying to convince international investors that it can survive in an era of low crude oil prices and reduce its dependence on oil.

The sale of Saudi debt securities attracted orders from investors totaling almost four times the amount sold.

The previous record for an emerging market sovereign bond sale was the $16.5 billion borrowed by Argentina in April.

Reuters said the order books for the Saudi debt sale totaled $67 billion, coming close to the $69 billion record set by Argentina.

London-based economic research firm Capital Economics said: “Saudi Arabia’s record-breaking US$17.5 billion sale of international bonds will finance around a third of next year’s budget deficit and almost all of the current account shortfall, so the Kingdom’s foreign exchange reserves are unlikely to fall much beyond their current level in the coming years.

“This should dampen any lingering concerns that the riyal will be devalued.

“The government’s debt-to-GDP ratio will rise as a result of the bond sale but, given its low starting point, it is hardly on a worrying path.”