Greece sees high demand for 30-year bond, to ease debt costs

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece on Wednesday raised 2.5 billion euros ($3 billion) in a 30-year government bond sale that saw high demand and is aimed at improving the country’s debt profile during the pandemic.

The yield was just below 2% and the auction was more than 10 times oversubscribed, the country’s Public Debt Management Agency said.

A steep recession in 2020 and high pandemic relief costs pushed Greece’s debt-to-gross domestic product ratio to over an estimated 200% last year.

The government is hoping to take advantage of current low interest rates to improve Greece’s debt sustainability and offset some of the impact of the pandemic on the public finances. It was Greece’s first 30-year bond issue since 2007.

Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said Wednesday’s bond auction, the second held so far in 2021, signaled an end to the country’s reliance on funds from successive international bailouts between 2010 and 2018.

“This issue marks a full return of our country to international markets,” he said. “It provides security to investors as it far exceeds the debt-settlement period agreed with (bailout) institutions.”

In late January, Greece raised 3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion) with a 10-year bond issue whose yield was close to 0.8%.

Athens is also planning to repay part of its bailout debt to the International Monetary Fund ahead of schedule to reduce annual debt servicing costs.

The early repayment worth some 3.3 billion euros ($3.9 billion) would cover nearly two-thirds of the outstanding debt to the IMF, and follow a similar repayment worth 2.7 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in late 2019.

Greece sunk back into recession last year due to the pandemic and lockdown measures, with the economy shrinking an estimated 8.2%, while hopes for a strong recovery this year have been dampened by extended restrictions. ___

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