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State set for blowout €4bn bond deal to plug finances hit by pandemic


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THE National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) joined the rush to lock in funding when it said that it would swap a planned straight bond auction for a syndicated deal - an option that is more expensive but more predictable and can raise more money.

"This decision is based on current market conditions and investor feedback, which suggested that demand is likely to be greater than can be typically accommodated by an auction," said Frank O'Connor, the NTMA's director of funding and debt management.

The NTMA did not say how much it intended to raise, though people familiar with transaction said the figure would be in the region of €4bn. Previous debt auctions for Ireland and for other eurozone countries have been oversubscribed and the agency has raised €12.5bn so far this year.

The Government has indicated that the budget deficit could balloon out to €30bn this year as a result of increased spending on welfare payments. More than a million workers are now at least partly dependent on the State for their pay and tax revenues have fallen sharply.

But thanks to the NTMA's active management of the debt and the European Central Bank's ultra-low interest rates and billions of euro in bond-buying, debt interest costs will fall to €3.95bn this year from €4.46bn last year, despite the higher debt burden.

Government debt levels are set to move sharply higher as the globe grapples with the economic fallout from the pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and seen nations plunged into lockdown.

Deutsche Bank calculates that the debt-to-GDP ratio among the Group of Seven richest nations in the world will hit 280pc in the war on Covid-19.

Ireland was not the only syndicated deal this week with Bloomberg reporting that Greece, Spain and the UK are also in the market.

Irish Independent