Saudi's Kingdom Holding picks banks for debut bond - sources

DUBAI, June 11 Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:44pm IST

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DUBAI, June 11 (Reuters) - Kingdom Holding, the investment vehicle of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has picked two banks to manage its maiden debt issue, a local currency bond, two sources said on Monday.

No date has been set for the issue, which is not seen as imminent.

The firm, which is 95-percent owned by Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's king and a shareholder in Citigroup Inc., has mandated Banque Saudi Fransi and Deutsche Bank to arrange the riyal-denominated transaction, the sources said.

"It was mandated a long time ago to the two banks but there are no plans to sell anything imminently," one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the information is not yet public.

Kingdom officials were not immediately available for comment.

Kingdom received approval from shareholders in March to sell bonds worth up to 3.75 billion riyals ($1 billion), although no details on timeframe or structure were given.

When the firm does market a deal, it is likely to be below benchmark size, the second source said. A benchmark-sized issue is traditionally understood to be worth $500 million or more.

Kingdom has minority stakes in some of the world's top companies. Aside from being one of the largest shareholders in Citigroup, it also owns stakes in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and microblogging site Twitter.

A number of Saudi entities have priced their first local currency sukuk this year as interest in the country's debt market grows on the back of high investor liquidity and a desire to diversify funding sources away from bank loans.

The largest of these was a 15-billion riyal ($4 billion) issue from the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) in January while National Industrialization Co (Tasnee), a petrochemicals company, and diary firm Almarai Co issued 2 billion and 1 billion riyals in March and May respectively. ($1 = 3.7505 Saudi riyals) (Editing by Amran Abocar)