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Best corporate borrower - Asia

Malaysian International Shipping Corporation

In the past 12 months Malaysia has re-emerged as a borrower in the debt capital markets as the government of prime minister Abdullah Badawi continues to loosen the fiscal strings on companies and the economy as a whole. In 2004 there was almost $3 billion of debt issuance from Malaysia – and that with no issues from the state, national oil company Petronas or electricity generator Tenaga.

Instead, in the past 12 months several Malaysian companies have tapped overseas debt investors for the first time. Chief among these was Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC), the country's leading shipping company and the world's largest single owner-operator of liquefied natural gas tankers, which launched a successful $1.1 billion two-tranche benchmark bond in July 2004 described by one insider as "MISC's coming out story".

The deal was especially interesting for having been launched to refinance a large bridge loan used to finance the $1.1 billion acquisition in July 2003 of American Eagle Tankers from Neptune Orient Lines of Singapore. The constraints placed on the company by the need to refinance this loan in a timely fashion made the transaction all the more challenging, says Aamir Rahim, managing director and co-head of Asia debt markets at Citigroup, joint lead manager of the bond alongside Barclays Capital.

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