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SriLankan Air Plans First Corporate U.S. Bond in Decade

SriLankan Airlines Ltd. is considering the island’s first U.S. dollar bond sale by a corporate borrower in a decade.

The state-run carrier has hired Standard Chartered Plc to arrange investor meetings in Asia and Europe from tomorrow for a possible sale, a person familiar with the matter said today. Standard & Poor’s assigned a B+ rating to the government-guaranteed bond, which will mature in 2019.

SriLankan’s sale would be the island’s first by a non-financial company since Sri Lanka Telecom Plc issued $100 million of five-year notes in November 2004, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The carrier is seeking funds for the retirement of more expensive debt and a re-fleeting as part of a turnaround plan to revive profits.

“This will be a good avenue for the company to raise funds as getting foreign debt will be cheaper,” Sanjeewa Fernando, an economist at CT Smith Stockbrokers Pvt in Colombo, said by phone today. “It will also give investors a new option for buying into Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka has encouraged banks and companies to tap cheaper interest rates by borrowing in foreign currencies, to help boost credit and economic growth since the end of the island’s civil war in 2009. Local lender DFCC Bank raised $100 million of five-year bonds in October at a yield of 9.625 percent.

The government sold $500 million of five-year notes at a 5.125 percent yield in April, its second time accessing global debt markets this year after issuing $1 billion of five-year debentures at 6 percent in January.

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