NEWS

Greece to spend 10 mln euros in bond buyback offer via Dutch auction

Greece offered to spend 10 billion euros ($13 billion) buying back bonds issued earlier this year as the nation attempts to cut a debt load that may threaten future international aid payments.

Greece invited holders of bonds to tender their securities in a so-called modified Dutch auction, the Athens-based Public Debt Management Agency said in a statement on Monday on its website. PDMA offered an average maximum purchase price for the bonds maturing from 2023 to 2042 of 34.1 percent. The offer runs to 5 p.m. London time on December 7.

Success of the buyback is key to releasing aid that’s been frozen since June. The offer is part of a package of measures approved by euro-area finance ministers last week that aims to cut the nation’s debt to 124 percent of gross domestic product in 2020 from the 190 percent it was projected to reach in 2014 without the measures.

The IMF has set the 2020 debt-reduction target as a condition for continuing to fund a third of Greece’s bailout program. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said after the euro-area finance ministers’ meeting that the fund will examine the results of the buyback before deciding whether to approve disbursement of additional aid.

The buyback accounts for 11 percentage points, or more than half of the 20 percentage points of the planned drop.

While Greece has gotten pledges for 240 billion euros of aid, the funds have been frozen since June as the government tries to get its bailout program back on track after it was disrupted by two elections and a deepening recession.

The buyback will target 62 billion euros of new bonds issued after the debt swap, according to a November 27 draft of a report by the so-called troika comprising the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Greek banks hold 15 billion euros of the new bonds, while the country’s pension funds hold 8 billion euros.

Finance ministers plan to make a formal decision on Greece’s 34.4 billion-euro disbursement by December 13. Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley International were appointed to manage the buyback, according to the PDMA. [Bloomberg]

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