Qatar Is Said to Meet Investors Ahead of Potential Bond Sale

(Bloomberg) -- Qatar met fixed-income investors in Asia to test their appetite for a potential bond sale in the next few weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.

Government officials from the gas-rich state held a non-deal roadshow in Singapore on Wednesday, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. They also met investors in Doha this week to discuss the possibility of a sale, another person said.

A sale would be the country’s first international fundraising since a diplomatic spat with its neighbors started in June. Qatar had planned to tap the debt market in the first quarter for about $9 billion to finance its budget deficit, people familiar with the matter said in January. The country has $1 billion bond maturing in 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Qatar’s finance ministry and government communications office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Budget Deficit

Qatar, whose debt carries the fourth-highest investment grade at S&P Global Ratings, expects its budget deficit to shrink this year as the economy absorbs the impact of a Saudi Arabian-led boycott. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic relations and closed transport routes with the country in June, accusing it of funding terrorism, a charge it denies.

The country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, has injected billions of dollars into local banks as the ongoing campaign hurts lenders. The wealth fund has been selling assets across the world to raise funds.

Read: Bahrain Is Said to Plan Bond Sale, Seeking to Boost FX Reserves

Oil-exporting countries across the Gulf Cooperation Council region are tapping debt markets to bolster public finances after crude prices slumped. Qatari borrowers have been raising funds through private placements since the standoff began. Qatar National Bank has sold debt in yen, renminbi, formosa and dollars.

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