MANAMA, Bahrain -- Bahrain Middle East Bank, a Persian Gulf offshore banking unit, said it would issue $75 million of commercial paper in the United States next month for its short-term credit needs.

The paper, the first of its kind issued by an Arab bank, was assigned top ratings of Al and Prime-1, respectively, by Standard and Poor's International and Moody's, sources at the bank said.

Bahrain Middle East is also considering a second issue of paper worth $250 million, they said.

The bank is owned by financial institutions and private investors in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

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