Bahrain in Talks With Banks for Bond Sale in Second Half of 2021

Bahrain has started talks with banks for a potential debt sale in the second half of this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The discussions are still preliminary, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans are private. The nation last tapped the international debt market in January, when it raised $2 billion.

Cash from a debt sale would bring some relief for the island state. Bahrain saw a sharp deterioration in finances in 2020 after the Covid-19 pandemic spurred widespread lockdowns and curbed demand for energy, dragging Brent crude to the lowest level in about two decades.

Bahrain’s 2020 budget deficit of 1.6 billion dinars ($4.2 billion) was wider than the government’s projection in its fiscal plan. And it’s unclear if a $10 billion package pledged by neighbors in 2018 will be enough to sustain its finances. In the last few weeks, both Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings lowered the country’s outlook to negative.

Bahrain in Talks With Banks for Bond Sale in Second Half of 2021

“The government remains committed to achieving a balanced budget in the medium-term and will remain opportunistic in its approach to any funding requirements to take advantage of optimal market conditions,” a spokesperson at the Finance Ministry said.

Since the nation’s last debt sale, demand for riskier assets has improved, with investors keen to cushion themselves from the prospect of faster inflation with high-yielding assets. Oil has also rallied, rising 38% this year to more than $70 a barrel, bringing the commodity closer to the nation’s fiscal breakeven price, which the International Monetary Fund estimates is around $88.

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