FinMin confirms market entry

Stournaras says Athens and eurozone discussing measures to lighten Greece’s debt By Sotiris Nikas

The Greek government intends to return to the money markets within 2014 to cover some of its needs and avoid a third bailout, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras confirmed on Wednesday during a press conference in Athens.

Athens is hoping that the country will issue bonds in the second half of the year, while it has not ruled out doing so as early as the first half of 2014, even though Germany, in particular, has expressed its opposition for an issue this year. When Stournaras was asked how the funding gap for 2014-15 could be covered, he included borrowing from international markets among the solutions on the table. The minister estimated the gap at 11 billion euros, adding that this could be covered without a third loan package.

“There are many scenarios,” said Stournaras, adding however that this would depend on the successful completion of Greek banks’ stress tests.

“We are ready and inclined to gain limited access to the markets in 2014, provided of course the good results continue – and we have no doubt that the good results will continue,” he said. The minister is reported to have pointed to a five-year bond issue in the country’s first attempt to return to the money markets this year.

Stournaras did say that “it is too early to say definitively how the gap will be covered,” deferring such talk until after the completion of talks with the country’s creditors on the issues of the ongoing monitoring of the Greek economy.

After all, the European Commission has spoken in favor of Greece returning to the markets in 2015, in line with reports in the German press that reflect the views held in Berlin. However, a report in the Financial Times yesterday noted that Greece would be able to tap the markets sooner rather than later.

Stournaras futher revealed that the eurozone and Greek authorities are examining measures to lighten the country’s debt load by about a quarter, or 82 billion euros, in line with the creditors’ obligations to Greece. The minister said that any new assistance from the bloc could come in the form of an interest rate reduction or the extension of the repayment period for the existing debt.