ECONOMY

Big bond issues to finance debt

Despite the crisis afflicting international capital markets, including bond markets, the Greek government will proceed with two big issues of bonds and zero-coupon share-exchangeable certificates (prometoha or privatization certificates) in order to finance Greece’s large public debt. The 1.5-billion-euro (510-billion-drachma) issue offered yesterday has a maturity date of October 4, 2004. The lead managers are BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, EFG Finance and NBG International. The government has not yet made it clear which public company shares the certificates will be exchanged with. The cost of borrowing for the state will be a little higher than if it had offered three-year bonds. On November 12, the state will also issue a 20-year bond, through a syndicated loan, amounting to nearly 500 billion drachmas. The choice of 20-year titles seems a curious one, since in times of upheaval, investors turn to short-term titles. Officials at the Bank of Greece also expressed skepticism. The state Public Debt Management Organization said that, depending on the circumstances, it may opt for a smaller issue. Countries which have implemented the changes have successfully made the transition and by extension have seen an improvement in their economy, he pointed out.