Greece eyes November timeframe for bond swap


Greece is eyeing a November timeframe to launch a swap of 20 small bonds for four new ones ahead of its scheduled emergence from its bailout program next summer, bankers said on Friday.

The country has been surviving on rescue funds since 2010 and is anxious to draw a line under financial upheaval next year and be able to service debt itself. It is seeking to create four new, benchmark size bonds, replacing 20 separate issues with a face value of around 32 billion euros.

The move would smooth out maturities and add depth to a currently shallow market. “[Greek authorities] want to do it by early November, but there is not a final decision yet,” a banker who requested anonymity told Reuters.

Greece, he said, was sounding out holders of existing government debt, including banks and funds, to gauge the likelihood of their participation in the project.

A fund manager in London confirmed that Athens is considering going ahead with the deal by November. There would be support for the swap from the bondholders, the fund manager added.

The 20 bonds were issued in 2012 in a voluntary scheme whereby private bondholders took a 53.5 percent haircut – or value reduction – on the nominal value of their holdings.

It was the world’s biggest debt restructuring involving bonds with a total face value of 206 billion euros. Major holders included banks and pensions funds in Greece and abroad.