DNO Completes $400m Bond Placement

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, has completed the private placement of USD 400 million of new five-year senior unsecured bonds with a coupon rate of 7.875 percent.

The placement met strong investor demand across international markets and was significantly oversubscribed, leading the Company to upsize the new bond issue from USD 300 million to USD 400 million.

Settlement is expected on or about 9 September 2021, subject to customary conditions precedent, and an application will be made for listing of the new bonds on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Net proceeds will be used towards refinancing of the DNO02 bonds (ISIN: NO0010823347) and general corporate purposes. In connection with the placement, the Company has agreed to buy back USD 154 million in nominal value of the DNO02 bonds with a call notice for the remaining DNO02 bonds and other details to be announced upon settlement of the new bond.

Pareto Securities AS acted as Global Coordinator and Joint Lead Manager together with Danske Bank and SEB as Joint Lead Managers.

(Source: DNO)

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Japan extends $300m Loan for Basra Refinery

By John Lee.

Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Motegi Toshimitsu, visited Iraq on Saturday, meeting with Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, and President Barham Salih.

Minister Motegi announced that Japan intends to extend the "Basrah Refinery Upgrading Project (Phase 3)" Yen loan project (up to the amount of 32.7 billion yen) [$300 million], and expressed his hopes that this project would contribute to providing the stable supply of energy and to creating jobs in Iraq. In response, Minister Hussein expressed his gratitude.

Minister Motegi added that he appreciates the publication of the "White Paper for Economic and Financial Reforms", and stated that Japan looks to support Iraq's reform efforts together with the international community through the "Iraq Economic Contact Group."

Both sides also exchanged views on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and means to improve the business and investment environment in Iraq.

(Source: Govt of Japan)

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Iraq Borrows $360m to Reduce Gas Flaring

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is investing in Basrah Gas Company (BGC) to support one of the largest gas flaring reduction projects in the world, helping to improve energy access, prevent associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and support a more resilient, sustainable energy sector in Iraq.

BGC is an Iraqi joint venture created to treat and process associated gas that would otherwise be flared. The project is expected to increase BGC's processing capacity, thereby avoiding more unnecessary flaring and associated GHG emissions by around 10 million tons per annum. It will support Iraq's transition to a lower carbon path and improve access to a domestic energy source, helping the country meet its growing power needs.

IFC is the lead arranger of the five-year, $360 million loan to BGC.

Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail, Minister of Oil for Iraq, said:

"Signing the loan agreement reinforces the collective efforts to increase investment in associated gas flaring reduction using world-class technologies. It is in line with our objectives of turning flared gas into cleaner valuable energy and reducing the impact of the Green House Gas emissions on the environment.

"This loan opens new horizons for cooperation and collaboration that serve common purposes and interests, reiterating Iraq's commitment to increasing investment in associated gas flaring reduction and to achieving the objectives set by the Paris Agreement."

Malcolm Mayes, BGC Managing Director, said:

"We are delighted to have successfully signed this loan with IFC, the first loan facility of its kind in the energy sector in Iraq-a milestone to be proud of.

"The agreement demonstrates the strength of Iraqi companies and their ability to attract funding and trust from international banks. The intent of this five-year loan is to support BGC's growth project and turn the otherwise wasted flared gas into much needed energy for the country. Our strategy is in alignment with the government of Iraq's vision to power Iraqi homes with electricity and create a more sustainable energy industry."

Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Vice President for the Middle East and Africa, said:

"This pioneering project has the potential to deliver significant environmental and economic benefits, including lower GHG emissions and increased fiscal revenues, and will improve energy access and lower costs for Iraqi citizens.

"The project comes after years of hard work and strong cooperation by all parties involved. We hope that it will send a strong signal to other investors and help drive more private investments to tackle climate change and support inclusive growth in Iraq."

IFC's investment comprises a $137.76 million loan for IFC's own account, a $180 million loan in which participations were syndicated to eight international banks (Bank of China, Citi, Deutsche Bank AG, Industrial Commercial Bank of China, Natixis, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Société Générale and Standard Chartered Bank), and a $42.24 million loan through IFC's Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program, a platform that allows institutional investors to participate in IFC's loan portfolio. The loan is without recourse to or guarantees from any of the shareholders.

Iraq is endowed with significant reserves of natural gas, mainly produced as a byproduct of legacy oil extraction. However, in the absence of adequate infrastructure to capture and process it, about 70 percent of all natural gas produced in the country is flared. Capturing associated gas for subsequent use can help Iraq reduce overall emissions.

The project benefits from long-standing engagements of the World Bank Group in Iraq's energy sector. Iraq joined the Global Gas Flaring Reduction initiative in 2011 and committed in 2013 to eliminate all routine natural gas flaring by 2030.

(Sources: IFC, Iraqi Govt)

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The Dutch Disease and Iraq’s Foreign Exchange Rate

By Dr. Zeki Fattah, for The Iraqi Economists Network (IEN). Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Dutch Disease and Iraq's Foreign Exchange Rate

Economists who studied the reasons for the low per capita growth of GDP in developing countries that rely on revenues from abundant natural resources, (called 'resource curse'), found it was actually caused not by high exchange rates, but by wrongly conceived economic policies over a long period of time.

We will visit this point again at the end of the paper. Meanwhile, and until recently, monetary economists in Iraq explained the fall in the Dinar exchange rate against the Dollar (a change within the expected norm) as a passing event caused by falling oil prices, and trepidation in the markets in the wake of COVID-19.

This explanation whilst went some way toward dampening the need for currency devaluation for a while, it didn't help the Iraqi Government to raise the cash it needed to meet its obligations. Recently, the Government had to reduce the Dinar exchange rate against the Dollar considerably to increase the Dinars it receives from the Central Bank in exchange for the Dollar it receives mainly from oil exports.

Please click here to read the full report.

(Source: IEN)

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Invitation to IBBC Members’ Introduction Webinar







Dar Al Handasah has provided consultancy services to more than 950 clients in 60 countries, and has handled projects involving a total investment cost of over US$ 300 billion. Through these projects, we participate actively in the development of our societies. With a permanent staff of 9,850 and over 4,000 successfully completed projects, DAR has in-house expertise and experience to cover a wide range of engineering fields.

AlBilal Group was Founded in 1993 by Mr. Akeel Abdul Razzak, AlBilal Group has for more than two decades operated across diverse development sectors including Oil & Gas, Power, Water and Infrastructure. The years that followed the tenuous security, socio-political and economic dynamics in Iraq, AlBilal Group emerged as a preferred and a reliable partner to international development agencies and companies such as USDoD, USACE, Black & Veatch, and Washington International in support of the Iraq's re-construction and development programs.

The National Bank of Iraq (NBI) was founded in 1995 as a publicly traded, private sector company, offering comprehensive banking services to individuals and businesses in Iraq. As a result of the Bank's success and to fuel future growth, its paid up capital was increased from the initial 400 million IQD (USD 361,000) to IQD 250 billion (USD 215 million) in December 2013. In 2005, Capital Bank Jordan acquired majority shares (61.85%) in NBI, allowing the Bank to expand its business offerings, strengthen its global footprint and help promote financial inclusion across the country.

The post Invitation to IBBC Members' Introduction Webinar first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Iraq passes $89bn Federal Budget Bill

By Joe Snell for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq passes $89 billion federal budget bill

The budget confronted issues of unemployment, currency devaluation and non-oil revenues and was passed as lawmakers prepare for October's general election; the challenge is implementation.

Click here to read the full article.

The post Iraq passes $89bn Federal Budget Bill first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Iraqi Parliament Approves 2021 Budget

By John Lee.

Iraq's Parliament (House of Representatives) has approved the Federal Budget Law for 2021 on Wednesday night.

The budget is reportedly based on an oil price of $45 per barrel, and oil exports of 3.25 million barrels per day, giving a budget of 129 trillion Iraqi dinars ($89 billion) and a budget deficit of 28.7 trillion trillion Iraqi dinars ($19.79 billion).

The 2021 budget set an oil price of $45 a barrel with expected oil exports of 3.25 million barrels per day.

More here, here, and here.

(Sources: Iraqi Parliament, Bas News, Shafaq, AP)

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Successful IBBC Conference in Dubai

IBBC's 5th Annual Iraq Conference in Dubai - Opportunity in Adversity

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was much praised at its conference on Thursday for pioneering in COVID-19 times by bringing together senior officials from Iraq, the UAE and the UK, prominent international and Iraqi businessmen, bankers and professional advisers as speakers and over 100 delegates.

With the Address Hotel as host venue implementing the strictest hygiene regime and using video links, delegates enjoyed a day of vigorous analysis and debate about the issues currently creating the adverse conditions dominating the Iraqi political and business landscape and what measures were needed to improve matters, but nevertheless inspirational presentations highlighted success stories across a number of sectors in panel sessions covering energy, finance, infrastructure/logistics and tech.

Highlights of the day were presentations made by Mrs Zena Yousif Iraq consul general in Dubai, the first woman to ever hold that position, and the fact that all the leaders of the energy companies presenting were Iraqi nationals for the first time ever, namely Mr Zaid Elyaseri, Vice President Iraq from BP, Mr Ali Al Janabi, Chairman, from Shell, Mr Musab Alkateeb, Managing Director, from Siemens Energy, and all were addressing common global issues currently affecting that sector - low oil and gas prices, environmental and green issues.

Mr Aziz Khudairi, Chairman of the Khudairi Group with multiple businesses in Iraq urged the Iraqi Government to embrace the private sector to grow prosperity in Iraq and to provide employment for the millions of young Iraqis, to protect Iraqi businesses from unfair dumping by foreign competitors, but in return emphasised the need for the Iraqi workforce to rediscover a work ethic so that Iraqi companies would become efficient and profitable.

Baroness Nicholson made her Welcome Address by video link from London and at the end of the day announced the new annual award to be made to an Iraqi SME for its contribution to business in Iraq, in memory of the recently deceased Engineer Rasmi al Jabri, IBBC deputy chairman.

Amongst the many excellent speakers were:

  • H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE
  • H.E. Dr Abdulkariem Al Faisal, Chairman of the Prime Minister's Advisory Commission
  • Mrs Zena Yousif, Consulate General of Iraq in Dubai
  • Mr Simon Penny, Her Majesty's UK Trade Commissioner for the Middle East

Conference Sponsors were Basra Gateway Terminal, Siemens Energy and Serco.

Vikas Handa of Gulftek, Conference chairman said:

"Today's IBBC conference in Dubai is the testimony of human resilience on the face of adversity. We had unexpected turnout & great participation from the ministers, industry leaders and businesses from Iraq, UAE & UK.

"We covered a lot of ground to chart the way forward, network & learn from each other. I along with IBBC MD Christophe Michels would like to thank our key members for their unwavering support to make it happen."

In parallel

The Tech Forum took place online, with participants from Iraq, UK, Dubai and France, to review and discuss the digitisation of Iraq, based on the World Bank's Report in April.

Chaired by Ashley Goodall of IBBC, we reviewed how the Government of Iraq ( GOI ) and digital development in general has been evolving since April, as Alexandre Laure, the World bank Sector specialist, who wrote the report - shared with us areas of development : namely, 6 key areas : Digital inclusion, banking and finance, Investment, Infrastructure, SMEs and start-ups, skill development and linking to external digital organisations. Two areas of progress include the establishment of a Tech fund for start-ups and SME investment, and the payment of Government salaries directly to bank accounts digitally. Additionally, there are areas of deregulation for start -ups and new businesses, although the registration cost of $37500 was deemed exclusionary for most start-ups.

Jawad Abbasi of GSMA MENA said that 4G infrastructure is critical in extending internet across Iraq, and this has been put on hold for the moment. This would increase the ability of users to trade, exchange and create new products on-line, as well as boost the digital economy. Yazen Altimimi CEO of Zain Cash echoed this issue as Zain are often blamed for poor internet experience, when it's an infrastructure issue. Zain's consumer uptake is rapid and there is a healthy growth and interest in the digital economy as a business and consumer medium. If 4G can be delivered the economy will see a rapid upswing. In short there is pent up demand and an appetite from consumers to transact on- line, so it makes sense to deliver 4G to ensure the whole economy expands.

Laura Oliver, director of Iraq Tech Ventures, amplified the issue for start -ups and SME.s who want to trade on line, and the raised the issue of the high cost of registration that prohibits start-ups registering formally, and therefore rely on the cash economy, so they are unable to get formal credit and investment. These two issues, of 4G and registration should be straight forward to address and would make a big different to the overall digital development of the Iraqi economy, and encourage investment from external digital companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google.

In a second panel: Online Consumer behaviour, Caroline McGarr of ThinkBank - a leading research agency in Irbil, presented key finding among Iraqi consumers between 18-45, and again found a big demand for consumer goods, banking on line for an unbanked 83% of the population. In sectors such as Fashion, health and social media there is enormous pent up demand as over 50% of these people spend over 5 hours a day on-line. Again, the issue of reliable internet, useful apps and products to purchase and reliability of banking, echo the first panel's concerns.

The overall message from both panels is that there is huge unmet demand among youthful Iraqi's for more services, better internet, better banking (trust) and online interaction with Government and products that will be better served by better internet and the proliferation of new goods and services from SMEs and start-ups, who themselves are constrained by registration fees and investment.

A full video of the sessions, including the presentation charts can be viewed here

For more information please contact london@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

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