Greece waits for buyback result, with local banks likely to hold key

Greece has to wait until Tuesday lunchtime to find out if it has reached the 30-billion-euro target for its bond buyback progam after extending the deadline, which expired on Friday.

The government announced early Monday that it would accept tenders until noon (London time) on Tuesday but did not reveal how close to its target it was.

It was originally thought that Greece had collected enough bonds on Friday to reduce its debt by 20 billion euros but this appeared not to be the case on Monday.

A total of 26.5 billion euros was tendered at an average price of 33.4 percent of face value when the offer expired on Friday, a senior euro zone official told Reuters.

That would mean Greece would still have 1.15 billion euros left over from the 10 billion euros it was allotted to spend to retire outstanding debt.

Assuming the same average price, it could buy an extra 3.5 billion euros worth of bonds.

“We are confident that there is scope for additional tenders from domestic and international investors,” European Commission spokesman Simon O'Connor told journalists in Brussels.

“A successful debt buyback is an integral part of the Eurogroup agreement of November 27 and a requisite for the success of the adjustment program,” he added.

“The Eurogroup will meet on December 13 to review the outcome of the debt buyback operation and take the necessary decisions with regard to the next disbursement for Greece.”

If Greece meets the target of 30 billion euros, it should ensure that the International Monetary Fund continues to co-finance the Greek bailout and that a long-awaited loan tranche of 34.4 billion euros will be released following Thursday’s Eurogroup.

However, it may take Greek banks putting forward more of their bonds in order for the target to be met. According to reports, the lenders offered about 10 of the 17 billion euros worth of bonds they own by Friday.

Another 16 billion euros came from foreign investors, which means that unless more hedge fund take part in the buyback, Greek banks will have to make up the difference to meet the 30-billion-euro mark.

On Friday, the banks' boards gave approval for up to 100 percent of their Greek bondholdings to be used in the buyback.