GE Capital, a unit of General Electric Co. , plans to issue its second Islamic bond in late 2010 or in 2011, a senior executive said on Sunday.
Aris Kekedjian, chief executive of GE Capital Middle East and Africa, said the Islamic bond, or sukuk, would likely be a benchmark issue.
In November, GE Capital became the first large U.S. conglomerate to issue a sukuk when it raised $500 million. Kekedjian said the firm wants to become a regular sukuk issuer over time.
We're not a one-off issuer, he said on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai. We don't have any compelling need to issue sukuk, other than to be smart in this region.
Based on demand, he said a benchmark issuance could come as early as the end of this year but it was more likely to be offered in 2011.
Kekedjian said the company, which established an $8 billion financial joint venture for investments in the Middle East and Africa with Abu Dhabi state-owned investment vehicle Mubadala last July, was committed to growing in the Middle East.
Tapping Islamic investors is part of that strategy, he said, adding that he hoped other Western players would follow GE Capital's lead and issue sukuks.
But it has not been easy for the sukuk or conventional bond markets in the past two years. Gulf firms have found it difficult to tap the debt market ever since state-owned conglomerate Dubai world announced in November that it needed to delay repayment on $26 billion in debt,
Current fears over the Greece debt crisis are also expected to dampen international international interest in the sukuk market.
But Kekedjian said the company has more of a long-term outlook on the region and despite the financial crisis and bad press over high-profile defaults, GE Capital hopes that offering sukuk will help the market to grow by sending a positive message.
We don't need to be greedy in our issuances but our intent is to continue to issue, he said.
(Reporting by Shaheen Pasha; Editing by David Cowell)