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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Trustee seeks clarity on sukuk status

MANAMA: The trustee of a $650 million sukuk issued by Saudi's Saad group said yesterday it had requested clarity from the group over the bond's status. Citicorp Trustee Company Limited said in a note to holders of the Golden Belt 1 Sukuk Company, a special purpose vehicle registered in Bahrain, that it had requested Saad to provide it with funds to secure against liabilities.

Saad Group is undergoing debt restructuring after it said last month it ran into unspecified difficulties and parts of it were downgraded by Moody's.

The sukuk, the next coupon payment for which is due in November, last traded at 51.75 cents to the dollar, according to ThomsonReuters data, a heavy discount as investors priced in greater risk.

Saad has sold off parts of its international investments, including a stake in UK construction company Berkeley Group. Its billionaire chairman Maan Al Sanea, whose bank accounts have been frozen by the Saudi Monetary Agency, owns a stake in HSBC.

Analysts at Bahrain-based SICO Investment Bank said yesterday they saw little chances for those who have entered into unsecured lending to Saad Group to recover their funds from the proceeds of those sales.

"We believe that most of the recovery from the offshore liquid assets could be used for paying back secured loans leaving unsecured exposures at a higher risk," they said. The legal form of sukuk structures in the Gulf region is being tested by insolvencies for the first time.

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