Saudi Arabia in huge new bond sale to finance deficit

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia Thursday announced it had undertaken another multi-billion dollar bond sale to finance a persistent budget deficit left by low oil prices.

The world’s top crude oil exporter raised $12.5 billion in its third international bond issue, the finance ministry said.

It comes as Saudi Arabia pursues economic and social reforms including this week’s announcement that it will end a ban on women driving.

The kingdom has already undertaken three “sukuk” Islamic bond issues this year – including one international sale – totalling around $15 billion.

Last year it raised $17.5 billion in its first global bond issue – the largest ever by a single country. Previously it had sold domestic bonds.

The latest issue was heavily oversubscribed with orders worth $40 billion, according to the finance ministry.

A slump in global oil prices resulted in massive budget shortfalls in 2014.

Saudi Arabia has posted a budget deficit in each of the past three years and is headed for a fourth year in the red in 2017.

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