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Loan Ranger: Saudi stories

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As the debt markets wait gleefully for record loan and bond issuance from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Ranger travelled to the Middle East to catch up on the gossip, and found some there more forthcoming than others.

At a conference in Riyadh, the Ranger met an official from the Saudi ministry of finance. While handing over our business card we asked if he also had a business card to share to which he replied:

“We are economising, I’m afraid.” 

The Ranger was not quite convinced that the oil crisis had left the ministry of finance so strapped for cash that business cards were, well, off the cards.

At the other end of the spectrum, HSBC Saudi Arabia’s Mona Al Tawil got lumbered with more than she bargained for by being over enthusiastic.

During a panel discussion with the exuberant Al Tawil, during questions from the audience, the Ranger kept allocating the toughest questions to her because she had a constant smile on her face and seemed to welcome them.

Although we now suspect that Al Tawil just has a sunny disposition and did not intend to take on so many of the toughest challenge the Ranger could throw at her.

There were not many loan bankers at the conference. Presumably many felt that their work was done since the $10bn Saudi sovereign loan has already been arranged. The Ranger did check whether Jonathan Macdonald in neighbouring Abu Dhabi might be attending, to which he replied “God forbid!”

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