Lebanese bond swap indicates healthy appetite

Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon successfully swapped $1.4 billion in Eurobonds that mature in April and May and 23 percent were snapped up by foreign investors, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said Tuesday.

The first issue, six-year bonds, was valued at $600 million with 5.8 percent interest, while a 12-year offering was valued at $800 million with 6.7 percent interest.

The minister said the Eurobonds were 35 percent oversubscribed, stressing that the yields on these sovereign bonds were lower than the previous issues.

Khalil also addressed the controversy brewing over the public sector wage hike, saying the adjustment should be done in a way that does not harm the economy.

“I want to approve the salary scale but I want to make sure that it does not impact low income citizens,” he said.

“We want to make sure that the salary scale does not impact the purchasing power of low income citizens as a result of imposing new taxes.”

The minister said that the growth rate in Lebanon is expected to reach 2 percent in 2014.

“The growth rate might reach 2 percent in 2014 if the country witnesses any positive developments,” he said.

According to Khalil, growth rate registered 1.2 percent and 1.5 percent in the years 2012 and 2013 respectively.





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