Greece says landmark 15-year bond auction successful

Greece’s center-right government has declared a 15-year bond auction a success, as the country borrowed beyond the scope of a bailout-repayment relief plan for the first time

ATHENS, Greece —
Greece raised money in 15-year bond auction on Tuesday at a low interest rate, as the country borrowed beyond the scope of a bailout-repayment relief plan for the first time.

State-run television reported that Greece had raised 2.5 billion euros ($2.75 billion), while the yield dropped below the 2% threshold to settle at around 1.9%. Demand for the bond was nearly 10 times the initial 2 billion euros offered.

Official results of the auction were to be announced later Tuesday by Greece‘s Public Debt Management Agency.

“Today’s 15-year Greek government bond issue, the first after 10 years of crisis, is a success for the Greek economy and the country,” Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said after the auction. “It’s a vote of confidence from international markets in the country’s economic policy and prospects.”

The auction was announced days after ratings agency Fitch raised Greece’s credit rating by one notch to BB with a positive outlook.

Still struggling to address the social and financial fallout from years of financial crisis, Greece has successfully tapped the bond market after ending its last international bailout program in 2018, with three new issues last year.

Creditors backed by a eurozone rescue fund have granted the country a major package of repayment relief measures valid through 2032.

Tuesday’s auction marked the first Greek effort to borrow money on the market that goes beyond that date.

As growth returned and political turmoil subsided, Greece’s borrowing rates have fallen sharply, the yield on the 10-year bond dropping from 4.4% to just 1.15% since the bailout ended, while yields on T-bills turned negative.

The national debt peaked at just over 180% of gross domestic product in 2018 but the average maturity of public debt was at 21 years in 2019, thanks to lenient repayment terms provided by creditors in exchange for continued cost-cutting reforms.

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