Stournaras says bonds can wait

Athens is seen to be rush­ing a trial is­sue for next week, ahead of the IMF coun­cil meet­ing on July 20

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY IRINI CHRYSOLORA & ANESTIS DOKAS

Bank of Greece Gov­er­nor Yan­nis Stournaras has dis­tanced him­self from the gov­ern­ment’s plan for an im­me­di­ate re­turn to the bond mar­kets, ar­gu­ing yes­ter­day that it is “rather early” and say­ing that two or three land­mark pri­va­ti­za­tions must be com­pleted first to re­gain in­vestor con­fi­dence.

Ac­cord­ing to the sce­nar­ios mak­ing the rounds in Europe yes­ter­day, the most likely dates for the Greek bond is­sue are July 17 and 19, since on July 20 – in­stead of July 27 as orig­i­nally an­nounced – the Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund will meet to de­cide on the ap­proval of a new loan agree­ment with Greece. Mar­ket pro­fes­sion­als say this may be re­lated to the in­for­ma­tion that Greece would at­tempt a trial bond is­sue by July 21 by swap- ping the bonds is­sued in April 2014 with new five-year pa­per.

How­ever, Stournaras told The Wall Street Jour­nal in an in­ter­view yes­ter­day that Greece’s ca­pac­ity to re­turn to the mar­kets “re­mains to be seen.”

“I think it’s a bit early. There are steps in the right di­rec­tion but it is only the be­gin­ning. I think it would be even bet­ter, for in­stance, if Greece pro­ceeds with two or three em­blem­atic pri­va­ti­za­tions in the pe- riod to come. That would be more help­ful to tap mar­kets later,” he said.

The cen­tral banker went on to ar­gue that Greece will have to do more, par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing the plan­ning of the fu­ture and the pri­va­ti­za­tions. Sources say Stournaras con­sid­ers as “land­mark” sell-offs the pri­va­ti­za­tion projects of Hel­lenic Petroleum, of OTE tele­com and of Athens In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Last month, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu- 1.1405 clid Tsakalo­tos met in Lon­don with in­vestors and one of them, BlueBay As­set Man­age­ment, told Reuters yes­ter­day that “in re­cent months we used to have one phone call from bankers on Greece ev­ery two weeks, but in the last 10 days ev­ery day a banker will call to ask about Greece.

“One re­al­izes we have got to a point show­ing some­thing will hap­pen im­me­di­ately. We would ex­pect the coun­try to hit the mar­ket within the next cou­ple of weeks,” he said.

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