Sri Lanka sells US$1.5bn in 5 and 10 year sovereign bonds

HONG KONG/COLOMBO July 12 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka priced its first dual-tranche sovereign bond after orders hit around $6.6 billion, more than four times the $1.5 billion offered, allowing it to issue the debt at a lower yield than initially offered.

The island nation priced a 5.5-year bond and 10-year bond after strong risk appetite for emerging market debt drew investors to its issue.

"It was luck. Had we gone last week, it (the yield) would have been much higher than this. The order book saw $6.6 billion and we got $1.5 billion in both bonds," Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told Reuters on Monday.

The government sold the bonds to raise $500 million in a 5-1/2-year tranche and $1 billion in a 10-year tranche.

The $500 million 5.5-year bond priced at a yield of 5.75 percent and the $1 billion, 10-year bond at 6.825 percent, a source close to the deal told Reuters.

In early deals the new bonds due 2022 were trading at 100.375 cents on the dollar and those due 2026 at 100.625, slightly higher than the pricing level of 100.

Aggregate orders exceeded $6.6 billion as investors were attracted to a sovereign that has been one of the best performers in Asia this year.

The final guidance for the 5.5-year tranche was 37.5 basis points lower than initial guidance in the area of 6.125 percent and for the 10-year bond final guidance was 25 bps lower than the initial guidance of around 7.125 percent

In comparison, bonds due in 2021 and 2025 were trading at a yield of 5.5 percent and 6.6 percent respectively, before the new bonds priced.

"It may be absorbed given the lack of supply. We are yet to see if it will perform well in the secondary market, given the valuation," said a Singapore-based analyst ahead of the pricing.





He said the 10-year tranche looked fairly valued on the current levels and the 5-1/2-year bond yield would be attractive for investors as long as it did not fall below 6 percent.

Karunanayake earlier told Reuters the government saw an opportunity in the capital market through dual-tranche bonds.

"After the Brexit, investors are looking for safe havens and I think dual tranche is an opportunity to get these investors attracted to our bond deals."

Moody’s assigned a provisional B1 rating to Sri Lanka‘s global bond offering, and said it expected to remove the provisional status when the issue closed and final terms were reviewed.

Asian sovereign bonds have rallied this year as investors looked for yields in a low rate environment. According to JACI benchmarks, dollar bonds issued by Sri Lanka produced total returns of 10.11 percent in the year to date, more than established issuers such as the Philippines.

A global fall in bond yields has gained momentum since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, with investor demand for safe haven assets pushing up bond prices.

German debt with maturities out to 15 years is yielding below zero and Dutch 10-year government bond yields fell below zero for the first time on Monday.

Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered are joint bookrunners for the Sri Lankan issue.

Last October, Sri Lanka sold a $1.5 billion 10-year bond at 6.85 percent.

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