Albania to issue first seven-year bond to extend debt maturity

TIRANA (Reuters) – Albania invited bids for an auction today of a new seven-year bond denominated in Albanian leks, which may also be bought in euros, in an effort to extend debt maturity, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. «The Ministry of Finance will auction a new lek denominated seven-year bond in the amount of 6 billion lek (-50 million) at noon (1100 GMT),» the ministry said. «The estimated coupon at announcement is 10.25 percent at a fixed semi-annual rate.» Deputy Finance Minister Sherefedin Shehu said the government considered issuing the seven-year bond after the successful launch of the five-year bond in November 2006. «Our main goal is to extend the debt maturity,» Shehu said. «It’s another step in developing the securities market.» Albania said in June it plans to issue a debut Eurobond worth around -300 million by spring 2008 after Moody’s Investors Service gave the country its first ever credit rating. Moody’s gave Albania a B1 rating with a stable outlook, four notches below investment grade. It is now on par with Ukraine, a notch behind Turkey and a notch ahead of Bosnia. The ministry statement added the final coupon would be set during the auction and would be the fixed at the highest yield accepted in the auction. The accepted bids would be awarded on a uniform yield basis. Successful bidders in the auction may choose to pay the settlement amount of securities purchased either in Albanian leks or euros.