Friday 19 January 2018

Ireland to re-enter bond markets to borrow as early as Summer

Ed Carty

PLANS are under way for Ireland to return to the global money markets this year and we are not on course for a second bailout, the country's top finance and borrowing chiefs have claimed.

In a week where a senior Citigroup economist urged the Government to plan for a rescue rerun, the body managing national debt insisted it was aiming for an opportunistic re-entry in June or July.

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) wants to secure billions on the short-term debt markets with the bonds maturing over three months.

John Corrigan, NTMA chief executive, said there is a plan in place for a gradual re-entry into the global money markets.

"We are looking at a phased re-entry to the markets," he said.

"Since May we have met over 300 institutional investors in North America, Europe and Asia. In our dealings with investors we have noted that Ireland is gaining credit for the progress it is making," he said.

"Investors recognise that Ireland has a flexible open economy and is fully engaged in taking action to deal with its problems on the basis of the measures set out in the EU/IMF programme.

"However, a resolution of the wider eurozone sovereign debt and banking crisis is critical to restoring investor confidence and positioning the NTMA for a return to the markets."

Mr Corrigan said investor sentiment depends on Ireland's progress under the EU/IMF/ECB €67.5bn bailout programme and resolution to the euro crisis.

The NTMA said it had seen a sharp decline in bond trading costs on Irish debt and the country was now enjoying much better terms compared with Portugal - 7.5pc compared with 11.5pc - which is also in a bailout programme.

"Clearly the market in its mind has drawn clear daylight between ourselves and Portugal," he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny held talks with the British Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street yesterday and while in London reiterated for the second time this week that a bailout rerun was not on the agenda.

Concerns over a new rescue package deepened after Citigroup chief economist Willem Buiter claimed Ireland should consider a second bailout rather than aim to return to the markets and be faced with last-minute negotiations.

Officials from the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission are continuing their latest review of Ireland's financial affairs into next week.

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