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UPDATE 1-Saudi Aramco lines up banks for bond sale -sources

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DUBAI, June 2 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian oil group Aramco has lined up banks to help it arrange a sale of U.S. dollar-denominated bonds, three sources said, seeking to raise money ahead of large commitments for its major shareholder, the Saudi government.

Aramco was widely expected to become a regular bond issuer after its debut $12 billion bond deal in 2019 was followed by an $8 billion, five-part transaction in November last year.

A large group of banks has been hired for the deal, including First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, NCB Capital and Standard Chartered, said one of the sources.

The energy giant is expected to raise up to $5 billion and the deal, which would be through sukuk, or Islamic bonds, is expected in the next few weeks.

“There has not been that many dollar sukuk that have been issued of late, so there is clearly demand there,” the source said.

Aramco, FAB, HSBC and Standard Chartered did not immediately respond to requests for comment and NCB Capital could not immediately be reached for comment.

The oil company last year maintained a $75 billion promised dividend despite lower oil prices, and is expected to shoulder significant domestic investments that form part of Saudi Arabia’s plans to transform the economy.

“I think it was expected. They need the cash to pay the dividends that have been promised, they’ve done it in the past too,” said a debt banker, speaking on condition of anonymity.

One of the sources said the deal could happen in the coming weeks. Qatar Petroleum is expected to issue bonds by the end of June that sources have said could go up to $10 billion in size.

“It could well be busy,” the source said, referring to bond issuance from the Gulf in June.

Bloomberg was first to report the planned bond sale on Wednesday.

Reporting by Yousef Saba and Davide Barbuscia; editing by Jane Merriman and Jason Neely

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