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Saudi said to weigh increasing size of US$10b existing loan

[DUBAI] Saudi Arabia is considering increasing the size of a US$10 billion loan after banks on the 2016 deal offered to lend more, people familiar with the matter said.

Lenders are in talks with the government to increase the amount it borrowed, said the people, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. Another option being discussed is to arrange new bilateral or club facilities with the banks, they said.

The kingdom could add as much as US$5 billion to the loan, one of the people said. Final decisions haven't been made and discussions may not result in a new deal, the people said. Saudi Arabia's ministry of finance didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

The world's biggest oil exporter plans to borrow about US$31 billion this year to bridge an expected budget deficit of US$52 billion and fund growth plans after its economy shrank last year. Saudi Arabia raised about US$36 billion last year, including US$14 billion of domestic bonds and US$22 billion from international debt markets.

In 2016, the government borrowed the US$10 billion loan from banks including HSBC Holdings, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ. It was the country's first loan for at least 15 years.

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