Norton Rose fast-tracks Bahrain Eurobond issue

Norton Rose has helped the Kingdom of Bahrain to complete its first sovereign Eurobond issue. The issue was rushed through three days before chief UN weapons inspector Dr Hans Blix and Dr Mohamed El Baradei, the head of the UN’s nuclear agency, presented their crucial report on the progress of weapons inspections in Iraq to the UN Security Council.

Norton Rose’s Bahrain managing partner Carol Roberts, who acted on the deal, said: “It’s a credit to our client that it has issued these bonds despite the threat of war and the economic uncertainty that brings. A lot of people seem to be taking the attitude that something nasty will happen, but think it will only be a short blip. But in the meantime we can’t stop and do nothing.”

The kingdom, acting through the Ministry of Finance and National Economy, a longstanding client of Norton Rose, issued $500m (£303.7m) five-year fixed-rate international bonds. The bonds were sold mainly in Europe and the Middle East.

The money raised will be used to finance a number of projects in the tourism and petrochemical sectors, including the construction of the race track that will host a Formula One Grand Prix in 2004 .

In Bahrain, Norton Rose is also advising Gulf International Bank in connection with the issue of $325m (£197.4m) floating rate notes due in 2007 and Aluminium Bahrain on the $1.5bn (£911.1bn) financing of its Line 5 expansion project.