Greece Plans For Second Bond Since Bailout

Greece Wednesday set out plans to issue its second bond since its international bailout four years ago, the latest step in the country΄s efforts to recover from a crippling debt crisis that left it on the brink of a euro-zone exit.

The Greek government is seeking to borrow at least EUR500 million ($680 million) for three-years. Some market participants reckon Greece could raise as much as EUR3 billion.

The deal–which is expected to be completed Thursday–comes after euro-zone finance ministers this week formally agreed to release EUR1 billion in bailout cash as part of Greece΄s international rescue package, signaling that the country΄s reform program remains on target.

“Greece continues to benefit from its rising primary surplus, increasing international investment and gradually improving unemployment and growth, ” said Alberto Gallo, head of macro credit research at Royal Bank of Scotland.

Greece returned to the global bond markets in April after a four-year hiatus in which the country needed two bailout packages and a EUR200 billion debt restructuring to avoid financial collapse.

That deal in April raised EUR3 billion for five years at a yield of 4.95%, with bankers working on the sale saying it attracted some EUR20 billion of orders.

Greece΄s latest debt-market comeback comes amid the European Central Bank΄s efforts to keep borrowing costs in the euro zone depressed in a bid to boost the region΄s flagging economy. Last month, the ECB cut its main interest rate by 0.1 percentage point to a record low 0.15% and started charging banks for leaving funds on deposit overnight in Frankfurt.

That has pushed euro-zone government bond yields even lower. Spanish 10-year bonds fell to a record low of 2.58% in June, while Italian 10-year bonds hit a fresh low of 2.70% on Monday. Greek 10-year bonds–which had been yielding more than 30% in 2012–dropped to just 5.53% last month.

Even so, some investors are skeptical about Greece΄s return.

“There hasn΄t been a sufficient improvement in Greece΄s fundamentals; it is purely the liquidity backdrop and the hunt for yield that is allowing them to access the market,” said Ben Bennett, a credit strategist at Legal & General Investment Management in London. “It is a sign of just how crazy and irresponsible the current market situation is.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. are the banks hired to manage the sale.