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ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has raised Rs1.83 billion ($11.4 million) in a first issue of local currency Karakoram bonds by a multilateral development bank of which Pakistan is a member.

A Karakoram bond is an offshore bond denominated in Pakistan rupees and settled in US dollars, listed on a major stock exchange and settled through an international central securities depositary.

The international bond issue pays a 7.50 percent semi-annual coupon and matures in August 2023.

The bonds were arranged by Citigroup Global Markets and sold to European asset managers.

The net proceeds from the sale of the bond issue will be included in the ADB’s ordinary capital resources.

Previously, the ADB had no local currency loans in Pakistan, but this option will be offered in future projects as an alternative to dollar borrowing.

It is anticipated that the ADB’s local currency loans will be a boost to private sector development in Pakistan.

The Bank on Wednesday in a tweet stated that Karakoram bond ADB’s first Pakistan Rupee-Linked bond will be a boost to private sector development including small industries, trade and tourism in Pakistan.

An official statement issued by the Bank stated, “Engineering local currency solutions is both an art and a science,” said ADB Treasurer Pierre Van Peteghem. “Not only must we marry investor demand with market conditions to achieve optimal currency and interest rates, but we must also dedicate time and resources to a close dialogue with the government to achieve the best possible outcome.”

“The Pakistan rupee-linked Karakoram bond floated by ADB is an excellent initiative. I am confident it will have significant mutually beneficial outcomes for Pakistan and ADB,” said Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

The State Bank of Pakistan Governor, Reza Baqir, congratulated the ADB team and affirmed his appreciation of the ADB’s support for Pakistan’s financial and economic development. “The ADB’s inaugural issue of Pakistan rupee-linked Karakoram bonds will help deepen the capital markets of Pakistan while channeling funding to vital economic sectors,” he said.

The ADB appreciates the support provided by the State Bank of Pakistan to facilitate coordination with the government to successfully start this program.

The ADB is a regular borrower in the mainstream international bond markets.

It has also led issuances in developing Asian countries as part of its efforts to promote local currency bond markets as an alternative to bank lending.

The ADB has already issued local currency bonds in Indian rupees, Kazakhstan tenge, and Mongolian togrog in 2020, the official statement added.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on August 12, 2020, allowed the ADB to launch offshore Pakistan Rupee (PKR)-linked bonds of up to $200 million to non-residents based on conducive market conditions.

The local currency proceeds of the bonds will be used for financing long-term infrastructure and energy projects in Pakistan.

Later, the Bank tweeted that bonds denominated in Pakistani rupee up to a value of $200 million equivalent would be issued to support local currency operations and develop capital market.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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