With an eye on tourism financing, Maldives sells $200 mln debut sovereign bond

Maldives has raised USD 200 million through a debut sovereign bond in a bid to provide more opportunities for local companies, especially resort developers, to secure finance from international markets.

The government issued the five-year bond with a coupon of seven percent last week, with Hong Kong-based BoCom International Holdings Co Ltd acting as the sole global coordinator for the offering. It was rated B2 by Moody’s and B+ by Fitch Rating, representing a stable outlook based on tourism-driven growth, low institutional strength and a high debt burden.

In a statement, the Maldives finance ministry hailed the response from the market as extremely encouraging, adding that the order book was oversubscribed by double. Successful debut in the international bond market will open the door for public and private companies in the Maldives to tap into international markets and diversify financing options for its corporates, it said.

“The bond will open up innovative financing options for resort developers, especially newer local companies to reach investors,” the statement read.

Asian investors bought 83 percent of the offering, with the rest bought by Europeans, official data showed.

Several seasoned and new hoteliers are investing heavily in the tourism sector. Over the past three years, a combination of local and foreign companies have developed at least two dozen new properties in the Maldives with many more expected to come into operation this year as well.

With several new investments in tourism, Maldives has maintained its lead in performance of tourist properties amongst Indian Ocean destinations. A recent report by industry-leading global real estate services company Colliers International has shown that the Maldives has a significant lead on rival Indian Ocean destinations such as Mauritius, Seychelles and Zanzibar in almost every performance indicator, including occupancy, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR).

Largely owing to the country’s resilient tourism industry, Fitch Ratings recently assigned the Maldives a first time Long Term Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at B+ with a stable outlook.

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