A rally in Pakistan bonds bodes well for the world’s second-biggest Muslim nation as it prepares to sell global sukuk for the first time since 2005.
The government may issue $500 million of dollar Islamic notes by month-end, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told reporters in Dubai on Nov. 8, reviving the sale initially scheduled for September. The yield on the nation’s conventional five-year U.S. currency debt sold in April dropped to a five-month low of 6.16 percent and Union Investment Privatfonds GmbH is predicting 6 percent for a similar-maturity sukuk.
Investors have sent the benchmark stock index to a record and the rupee to its strongest in more than two months as they focus back on the economy as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif overcame pressure from opposition members to step down in August. Global sales of sukuk are heading for the worst fourth quarter since 2008, aggravating a shortage of Islamic securities that may support demand for Pakistan’s offering.
“The macroeconomic outlook of the country has vastly improved,” Vasseh Ahmed, chief investment officer of Faysal Asset Management Ltd., which oversees $85 million in Karachi, said in a Nov. 11 e-mail. “There is expected to be substantial interest owing to the lack of investment avenues for Islamic investors.”
Worldwide sales of Islamic bonds dropped 81 percent this quarter to $2 billion from the previous three months, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Issuance climbed 11 percent in 2014 to $38.9 billion, trailing 2012’s record $46.8 billion total.
Pakistan tapped the international debt market in April for the first time since 2007. It sold $2 billion in total of 7.25 percent non-Shariah-compliant notes due in 2019 and 10-year 8.25 percent bonds whose yield was at a three-month low of 7.46 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Demand exceeded the amount on offer by 14 times.
The nation has no global sukuk outstanding, only local-currency Shariah-compliant notes that were last issued in June.
The government hasn’t indicated the maturity for its planned Islamic bonds. Sergey Dergachev, who helps oversee $10 billion at Union Investment in Frankfurt, predicts a 10-year sukuk would probably yield about 7.25 percent.
A five-year note will pay from 6 percent to 6.5 percent and 10-year securities 7 percent to 7.5 percent, Mohammed Sohail, Karachi-based chief executive officer at Topline Securities Pakistan Ltd., said in a Nov. 11 e-mail.
While the economy has improved, Prime Minister Sharif is still facing a standoff with former cricketer Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party that’s demanding he resign on allegations of vote-rigging in last year’s election. Protesters marched on the capital Islamabad in August and have since remained camped out around parliament. Khan, who led the procession of what was estimated at millions of people, said he will announce a new strategy after Nov. 30 to renew pressure on Sharif.
The South Asian nation’s foreign-exchange reserves totaled $14 billion in September, compared with $8.7 billion at end-2013, central bank data show. The fiscal deficit narrowed to 5.8 percent of gross domestic product in the 12 months through June, from 8.2 percent the previous year, according to official data on June 3.
“The key factor will be the domestic political situation,” Sajjad Anwar, chief investment officer at NBP Fullerton Asset Management Ltd., which manages $456 million, said by phone on Nov. 11 from Karachi. “The economy is in better shape now and the response to the sukuk will be very encouraging.”
The nation, which is rated below investment grade at B- by Standard & Poor’s, is still likely to attract investor interest because of its higher yields. Qatar’s global Shariah-compliant debt due in 2023 yields 2.99 percent, while Malaysia’s 2021 sukuk pay 2.93 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Pakistan has engaged in economic reforms to meet conditions of an International Monetary Fund bailout. The Washington-based lender said in a Nov. 8 statement that it will seek board approval to release $1.1 billion in loans in December. The reforms are “broadly on track” with growth forecast at 4.3 percent in the fiscal year ending June 2015, the fund said. GDP increased 4.1 percent in the last financial year.
“Pakistan is a very well known name to the sukuk investor community,” Union Investment’s Dergachev said in a Nov. 11 e-mail. “It still offers a very attractive yield compared to other sukuk issuers both in the sovereign and corporate space and that matters in a low-yield environment.”
Originally published on www.bloomberg.com