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Arab Gulf states pitch new finance tools as their credit dries up in face of big projects

Banks in the Gulf are pitching new ways of raising funds to meet big infrastructure and refinancing needs of companies whose traditional funding source, bank financing, has dried up.

Equity raising in the Gulf, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, is practically moribund as investors fret about the euro zone crisis, while the overhang of Dubai’s debt woes and market uncertainty have held back global bond issuance from the region, pushing new issue premiums to unacceptably high levels.

Under such circumstances, bankers at the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit said that they saw chances to pitch unusual or innovative products to clients in a region with massive funding needs.

“Most clients ... don’t need to be convinced that they really can’t rely on the bank market any more. The hard part is helping them understand what the other pools of capital are and how to access them,” said Augusto Sasso, co-head of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) investment banking at Moelis.

“We need to be able to do a better job of accessing the various forms of the bond market,” he added, saying borrowers should be open to secured or unsecured, non-investment grade, high yield bond and mezzanine financing as options.