Kazakhstan is considering selling its first foreign-currency bonds in more than a decade next year to help cover the budget deficit and pave the way for its first sovereign Islamic debt.
The central Asian nation “is not excluding the sale of as much as $1 billion of Eurobonds next year,” Deputy Finance Minister Ruslan Dalenov said in an Oct. 26 interview in the capital, Astana. “As the sukuk market is quite narrow, it’s more reasonable to sell Eurobonds first,” which will become a benchmark, and then the Islamic bonds, he said.
Kazakhstan, where about half of the population of 16.6 million people is Muslim, may sell $500 million of Eurobonds, followed by the sale of sukuk, Dalenov said. The country doesn’t have outstanding foreign-currency bonds after it redeemed its last notes in 2007, according to Bloomberg data.
Kazakhstan, which plans a budget deficit of $5.1 billion for 2012, compared with an estimated $4.9 billion this year, may turn to international markets if government revenue and domestic bond sales won’t cover the deficit, Dalenov said. Higher-than- expected revenue from the custom union that Kazakhstan has with Russia and Belarus may help keep the budget in check, he said.
Global sales of sukuk, which pay asset returns to comply with Islam’s ban on interest, have jumped to $18.9 billion this year from $13 billion in the first 10 months of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.