Emirates May Refinance $550 Million Bonds on Borrowing Cost Drop

Emirates, the biggest airline by international traffic, may refinance a $550 million of bonds maturing in June, as borrowing costs decline, a company executive said.

“The market is awash with funds,” Gary Chapman, president of the airline’s travel service unit dnata, said in a phone interview today. “At the moment the market is looking pretty attractive for good credit and there are funds available at relatively attractive pricing,” said Chapman, who also is responsible for finance at the company.

Bond sales by issuers in the Persian Gulf are off to a record start this year as borrowing costs decline, with regional companies and governments raising $14.7 billion so far, the most for the same period since Bloomberg began tracking the data in 1999. The average yield on Gulf debt fell to 4.56 percent March 28, the lowest in six months, the HSBC/NASDAQ Dubai GCC US Dollar Sukuk/Bond Index shows.

Emirates will study “the economics” of both bonds and sukuk, as Islamic debt is known, as refinancing options, Chapman said. A decision will be made after the company announces its annual results in early to mid-May for the 12 months ended March 31, he added.

The price on Emirates’ $550 million floating-rate Islamic bonds maturing in June rose to 99.37 cents on the dollar on April 6, the highest since November 2007. The airline raised $1 billion from the sale of a five-year bond in June. The yield on the 5.125 percent bond declined 86 basis points so far this year to 4.31 percent April 6.

The carrier, the Arab world’s largest, retains a “strong cash position” while “the performance of the bond we did has been very good,” said Chapman. Emirates, the biggest operator of Airbus SAS A380 superjumbos, wants to establish Dubai as a global hub in competition with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways Ltd. and European carriers including Air France and British Airways. (IAG)

To contact the reporter on this story: Tamara Walid in Dubai at twalid@bloomberg.net Dana El Baltaji in Dubai at delbaltaji@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net; Claudia Maedler at cmaedler@bloomberg.net

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