ECONOMY

Athens planning ‘diaspora bond’

Greece plans to sell bonds to Greeks abroad next year, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou said yesterday, admitting that the government may miss this year’s revenue target. Papaconstantinou is heading a two-day road show to London, Paris and Frankfurt along with officials from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, seeking to convince investors and political leaders that the country is committed to taming the deficit and making its economy more competitive and efficient. Greece has been virtually shut out of the bond market since accepting the EU-IMF bailout after a surge in its yields made the cost of selling long-term debt prohibitive. In interviews with several news agencies, Papaconstantinou said Greece is designing what is called a «diaspora bond» to tap Greek money abroad. «We’ll be rolling something like this out sometime in 2011,» he said, adding that there were as many Greeks living overseas as in the country itself. Analysts said details were needed to see what amount Greece could raise from a diaspora bond and what would make it more attractive than other Greek debt offerings. The government was encouraged by short-term borrowing on Tuesday, when it launched monthly sales of T-bills, with foreigners picking up 30 percent of the offer, up from the usual 15-20 percent officials said, although the average yield on six-month paper was 4.82 percent. »If we did not have the T-bill auctions… we would have to borrow from our creditors [IMF/EU] at 5.0 percent. Anything below that for us is useful,» Papaconstantinou said. Greece managed to slash its budget gap by 40 percent year-on-year in the first half but the pace slowed in the following three months on weak revenues as the economic downturn deepened. The minister said, «We may have a shortfall in revenues because the country is in a recession.» The premium that investors demand to hold Greek 10-year government bonds instead of benchmark German bunds was little changed at 900 basis points around midday yesterday. The spread reached a euro-era intraday high of 973 basis points on May 7.