ECONOMY

Greece loan to be unlocked

Loans to Greece are likely to be unlocked on Saturday when eurozone finance ministers hold a teleconference due to release billions of euros to the country.

Ministers from the 17-nation eurozone had been scheduled to meet late Sunday to agree to release monies pledged to Greece but sources said the talks would instead take place by phone or video conference on Saturday.

After Greece?s Parliament met demands from its international lenders to adopt a tough package of austerity measures this week, the weekend meeting is expected to agree to release a fifth 12-billion-euro slice pledged under last year?s 110-billion-euro bailout of Greece by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Greece may receive as much as 85 billion euros in new financing, including a contribution from private investors, in a second bailout, according to an Austrian Finance Ministry official, Bloomberg reported.

Euro-area nations and private investors will contribute 70 percent of that aid, with the IMF offering the rest, Thomas Wieser, head of the ministry?s economic policy and financial markets department, said at a briefing late on Thursday in Vienna.

Meanwhile, Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter said that she expects to discuss the proposals on private investor involvement with her eurozone colleagues this week.

Greek two-year notes led gains by securities from the euro region?s most-indebted countries on Friday as speculation about an imminent Greek default eased.

Two-year Greek note yields fell 89 basis points to 26.41 percent after topping the 30 percent mark earlier this month on default concerns.

Ten-year bond yields were two basis points lower at 16.32 percent.

German and French banks, among the biggest holders of Greek debt, have stepped up talks in recent days on a plan to join the new rescue package through rolling over part of their Greek bonds.

On Thursday, German banks agreed to swap Greek bonds maturing through 2014, which amount to about 2 billion euros, into longer-maturity debt, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in Berlin. The country?s so-called bad banks will provide 1.2 billion euros as well, he said.