SOUTH Africa's biggest bank expects to launch a US$50-million deal next month after overcoming technical delays, a banker close to the transaction said. Newly licensed ABSA Bank Singapore's three-year floating-rate certificate of deposit (FRCD) should hit the market in a matter of weeks, a banker close to the deal said. 'It's probably going to be more like the end of January, early February because it's going to coincide with the opening of the branch and there was some technical matter to be resolved between the Monetary Authority of Singapore [MAS] and the South African Reserve Bank,' he said. He declined to identify the underwriters of the deal, although UOB Singapore is said to be sounding out banks in Singapore for the three-year issue. The coupon was not finalised, he said. When the issue was first mooted, the bank said the FRCD would be more attractively priced than Standard Chartered Bank's HK$2.3 billion FRCD which was signed last month. Standard Chartered's issue, originally for HK$1.6 billion, had a coupon of 35 basis points over three-month HIBOR (Hong Kong interbank offered rate). The banker said there had been a slight problem over the timing of the issue because the banking licence had been granted but not issued. Ken Hughes, general manager business development with the group's Hong Kong-based ABSA Finance Asia, said in October that it would be the first offshore fund-raising by a South African bank for some years, certainly since sanctions were removed. Trade between Singapore and South Africa has grown by 200 per cent in the last two years, according to a Singapore-based ABSA Bank Singapore executive. The new branch will offer trade financing, structured finance and treasury services. An investors' services division will offer services for South African equities, bond fund management and custodian services. South African banks were barred for years from countries in the region because of apartheid-related sanctions. ABSA Bank Singapore and ABSA Finance Asia are owned by ABSA Bank, a subsidiary of Amalgamated Banks of South Africa.