Uzbekistan: IFC issues first-ever local-currency bond to support Uzbek SMEs

stock-market-returns-572

TASHKENT (TCA) — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has issued its inaugural bond in Uzbek national currency, the Soum, raising UZS 80 billion — ten million USD equivalent — to expand lending for micro, small and medium enterprises in Uzbekistan. This is the first-ever Uzbek Soum-denominated transaction issued in the international markets, the IFC said.

The bond, dubbed ‘Samarkand’, will be listed on the London Stock Exchange. The two-year bond was placed with European asset managers dedicated to emerging markets, with the deal arranged by ING Bank.

“We were very pleased with the broad, global investor interest in IFC’s inaugural Uzbek Soum issue,” said Mr. Timur Ishmetov, First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of Uzbekistan. “Successful completion of the issuance is greatly expanding the investor base in Uzbek Soum and will help raise the profile of the currency in international debt capital markets.”

The proceeds of the bond will be used to support Hamkorbank, allowing the country’s leading private bank to boost long-term local currency financing, which enables businesses to grow and avoid risks related to borrowing in foreign currency.

Ikram Ibragimov, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Hamkorbank said: “We are delighted to partner with IFC in their first Uzbek Soum bond. This landmark issuance will increase our capacity to lend to customers in local currency – and reduce our foreign exchange risk exposure.”

IFC has provided Hamkorbank with more than $20 million in debt, equity and trade finance since 2001. IFC has also helped the bank develop prudent risk management practices, build capacity to finance agri-businesses, and introduce international best practices in several areas, including corporate governance, SME banking, HR management, asset and liability management (ALM) and treasury, internal control and audit, monitoring, branch management, and management information systems.

Jingdong Hua, IFC Vice President and Treasurer, said: “This first-ever Uzbekistan Soum bond issued by triple A-rated IFC is an important capital markets innovation. It will help provide local currency solutions for Hamkorbank – enhancing its ability to lend to local entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises.”

“This was a very significant trade and IFC’s debut Uzbek Soum Medium Term Note,” said Richard Proudlove, Head of MTNs (Medium Term Notes) and Private Placements at ING Bank. “ING as a leading niche currency dealer sourced investor demand for the instrument. It was bought by offshore emerging markets investors as an opportunity to get exposure to that currency.”

IFC issues local currency-denominated bonds in emerging market currencies as part of its regular program of raising funds for private sector development, and is one of the key steps in developing domestic capital markets. In many cases IFC is the first, or among the first, nonresident issuers in local currency both in domestic and international markets. IFC bonds are rated triple-A by Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s.

Sergey Kwan

TCA