Athens to borrow 10-14 bln to fund scheme which ‘must succeed’

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Wednesday that Greece would borrow up to 14 billion euros to fund a bond buyback scheme which creditors have said must be completed as part of efforts to reduce Greek debt and before fresh rescue loans are released next month.

“It is our patriotic duty to make the scheme succeed,” Stournaras told a press conference. “It must succeed.”

He refuted reports that the government would issue T-bills to raise the money for the scheme, saying that the funds would come from the European Financial Stability Facility. Stournaras fudged questions whether the success of the scheme was a condition for the release of 34.4 billion euros in loans next month. But he said that if the voluntary scheme fails to attract enough interest, there is a “Plan B” which he refused to elaborate on.

The new loan is on top of the 44 billion euros that eurozone and International Monetary Fund officials earmarked for Greece at a Eurogroup summit this week but it has been factored into the troika’s debt sustainability analysis, which sees Greek debt shrinking to 124 percent of gross domestic product from around 175 percent now, Stournaras said.

Early next week, Greece’s debt management agency is to reveal details of the bond buyback scheme which, according to Reuters, will be managed by Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley.

Of the 44 billion euros pledged to Greece, 34.4 billion is to be released by December 13 with the remaining 9.3 billion to be paid in three tranches in the first quarter of next year if Greece meets troika targets.

Of the 34.4-billion-euro tranche Greece hopes to get next month, 23.8 billion is to go to bank recapitalization and 10.6 billion to the primary deficit and state arrears. Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said a plan for the repayment of 9.3 billion euros in state arrears would be announced on Thursday. Of the total, 1.5 billion euros is to be paid out next month and the rest next year.

Stournaras said the Eurogroup deal had helped secure Greece’s position in the eurozone and its prospects for economic recovery but he noted that it is “no cause for celebration.” “Now the hard part begins.”

Meanwhile it emerged that eurozone central banks may roll over their holdings of Greek debt, which would reduce a funding gap for the 2013-16 period from 7.6 billion euros to 5.6 billion.