EFSF bailout fund approves Greek emergency payment

BRUSSELS Wed May 9, 2012 7:27pm EDT

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone governments kept Greece afloat on Wednesday after agreeing a payment of 5.2 billion euros from the region's bailout fund, despite opposition from some member states following the Greek election results.

After a conference call, the board of the European Financial Stability Facility, the 700 billion euro bailout fund administered by the 17 countries that use the euro, agreed to make the scheduled payment, which will allow Greece to meet near-term bond redemptions and other obligations.

An initial 4.2 billion euros will be paid on Thursday, while the remaining 1 billion will be paid out later, "depending on the financing needs of Greece," a statement said.

It said the remaining 1 billion was not needed before June.

European bond and currency markets were on edge in late trading on Wednesday out of concern the board could decide to withhold the payment because of frustration over the anti-EU/IMF bailout sentiment prevailing among Greek political parties.

"They will get the money," one official who was on the conference call told Reuters after it ended.

Another confirmed that the payment would go ahead and the first 4.2 billion would be paid into a blocked Greek account on May 10.

If Greece were not to get the money, it would face financing problems because of a lack of cash for salaries as well as money for the redemption of 435 million euros of a bond maturing on May 15, a bond that was not fully swapped into new paper under the Greek debt restructuring deal finalized last month.

European leaders are struggling to decide how to respond to Greece following Sunday's election, in which no party secured a clear majority and fringe anti-bailout parties made substantial gains, raising questions about Greece's long-term ability to stick to the program agreed with the EU and IMF.

Senior officials, including Germany's Joerg Asmussen, a member of the European Central Bank executive board, have cautioned Greece that it cannot expect to renegotiate the terms of the bailout and remain in the euro zone.

While opinion polls show the vast majority of Greeks want to retain the euro, most also want to renegotiate the bailout package or scrap it altogether.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski and Luke Baker; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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