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Ghana delays Eurobond it expected to launch on Friday

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

Ghana money

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana has postponed a Eurobond sale of up to $1.5 billion it had expected to launch on Friday amid a rise in borrowing costs for emerging market nations, a senior government official said.

Analysts said the delay, following roadshows in London and the United States, was probably a response to the prospect of having to pay higher yields after concerns about China’s economy and a possible U.S. rate rise roiled global markets.

Eurobonds issued by other commodity-exporting African countries have sold off sharply in recent weeks as metals prices have plunged.

Ghana’s planned issuance was mainly to refinance debt. The country is heeding an International Monetary Fund programme to stabilize its economy in the face of a fiscal crisis that includes a debt to GDP ratio around 70 percent.

Senior Ghanaian financial policymakers have concluded a roadshow in London and U.S. cities and are returning to Accra. Officials said the launch could still happen in the near future.

“What it means is that we are not closing the book (launching the Eurobond) today,” said the official, who declined to be named. “But we are still live in the market and could seal a deal anytime we deem fit.”

A finance ministry statement said Ghana continues to consider the bond issue subject to market conditions. Another senior official told Reuters there was significant interest in the bond but the yields were not attractive.

“The reason why the deal is not announced yet, I suspect, is that the government was surprised that the cost of funding was still elevated relative to their expectations,” said a London-based fund manager.

Investors were demanding a high premium despite a World Bank guarantee for the bond of $400 million and the government appeared to be considering cutting the bond to $1 billion or lower to get the desired pricing, the manager said.

The manager said Ghana wanted to pay a 9.5 percent yield for the bond, while a source involved in book running for the launch said the market was demanding closer to 11 percent.

Angola on Wednesday cancelled plans for a $1.5 billion Eurobond due to challenging economic conditions and has not set a new time frame for the issue.


For years, Ghana had one of the strongest economies in sub-Saharan Africa thanks to exports of gold, cocoa and oil. But growth has slowed sharply in the last two years due to a fall in global commodity prices and economic instability.

The government forecasts GDP growth at 3.5 percent this year and is under pressure to boost the economy ahead of what is expected to be a tight election battle in 2016, when President John Mahama will run for a second term.

“The Eurobond is critical in helping to anchor stability in foreign exchange rates and for government to refinance existing Eurobond issues,” said Sampson Akligoh, managing director of InvestCorp investment bank, which is based in Ghana.

The cedis gained slightly on Friday against the dollar but a trader said sentiment could turn bearish next week if the bond was not launched, given the market expected inflows from it and a $1.8 billion cocoa loan.

The yield on Ghana’s outstanding 7.87 percent Eurobond due 2023 has surged to record highs above 11.3 percent, according to Tradeweb data.

The average yield premium investors demand to hold emerging sovereign dollar bonds over U.S Treasuries soared almost 100 basis points in the third quarter. It now stands at 470 bps, close to 6-1/2 year highs hit at the end of last month, according to JPMorgan’s EMBi Global index.

But the average premium demanded of African sovereigns rose by an even greater 160 basis points in the third quarter and stands at 520 bps over U.S. Treasuries on the EMBIG index, while Ghana’s premium has jumped by 200 bps in this period to 914 bps.

(By Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Kwasi Kpodo, Reuters)

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JP Morgan to remove Nigeria from government bond index

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

LAGOS (Reuters) – JP Morgan will remove Nigeria from its Government Bond Index (GBI-EM) by the end of October, the bank said on Tuesday, after warning the government of Africa’s biggest economy that currency controls were making transactions too complicated.

The removal will force funds to sell Nigerian bonds, triggering potentially significant capital outflows and raising borrowing costs for the government.

Struggling with a plunge in vital oil revenue, Nigeria had imposed currency restrictions to defend the naira after the burning of dollar reserves failed to halt a slide.

The JP Morgan index tracks around $210 billion in assets under management.

Some bonds will be removed from the index by the end of September and the rest by the end of October, JP Morgan said.

The bank had warned Nigeria that to stay in the index, it would have to restore liquidity to its currency market in a way that allowed foreign investors tracking the index to conduct transactions with minimal hurdles.

Nigeria became the second African country after South Africa to be listed in JP Morgan’s emerging government bond index, in October 2012, after the central bank removed a requirement that foreign investors hold government bonds for a minimum of one year before exiting.

The index added Nigeria’s 2014, 2019, 2022 and 2024 bonds, giving Africa’s biggest economy a weight of 1.8 percent in the index.

“Foreign investors who track the GBI-EM series continue to face challenges and uncertainty while transacting in the naira due to the lack of a fully functional two-way FX market and limited transparency,” the bank said in a note.

The central bank had to devalue the naira and pegged it at a fixed rate against the dollar, turning trading into a one-way quote currency market whose lack of transparency upset investors and businesses.

The index provider said Nigeria would not be eligible for re-inclusion in the index for a minimum of 12 months. To get back in, it would have to establish a consistent record of satisfying the index inclusion criteria, such as a liquid currency market.

Nigeria’s Finance Ministry, central bank and Debt Management Office said in a statement they “strongly” disagreed with the index expulsion, saying that market liquidity was improving.

“While we would continue to ensure that there is liquidity and transparency in the market, we would like to note that the market for (government) bonds remains strong and active due … to diversity of the domestic investor base,” the statement said.

Traders told Reuters on Tuesday the central bank started rationing dollars to foreign investors last week.

Nigeria’s foreign reserves stood at $31 billion as of Sept. 7, down more than 21 percent from a year earlier, when they were $39.6 billion, the central bank said.

“Nigeria’s inclusion in the GBI-EM index was generally seen as a big step forward in its integration into global financial markets, opening the market to new investment and raising its profile worldwide. That will now be reversed,” said Alan Cameron, an economist at Exotix.

With Nigeria’s removal, countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have increased their weight by more 25 basis points as of Aug. 31, JP Morgan said in the note.

Foreign holdings of Nigerian government bonds stood below $2.75 billion, said Samir Gadio, the head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered Bank. They had been around $8 billion in September 2014.

“This will initially trigger excess volatility in the market as exiting offshore accounts and onshore investors may push yields higher,” Gadio said. “A potential exclusion from the GBI-EM indices would make it more difficult to attract foreign portfolio flows in the future as Nigeria will need to rebuild its market credentials.”

By Chijioke Ohuocha (Reuters)

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