* Berlin long since preparing plans for restructuring -FT
* German govt agrees Athens cannot be forced into move -FT
* Restructuring not an issue for German govt -FinMin
(Releads with ministry denial)
BERLIN, April 16 The German finance ministry on
Saturday denied it was drawing up contingency plans for a Greek
debt restructuring after the Financial Times reported the
ministry was studying various options if Athens fails to meet
its fiscal targets.
"There have been media reports today regarding German plans
for Greek sovereign debt restructuring. These plans have no
basis in reality," said Martin Kotthaus, spokesman for Finance
Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, in a written statement sent on
Citing people briefed about Berlin's thinking, the FT wrote
on Saturday that one plan involved swapping Greek debt at market
prices for paper guaranteed by the eurozone, similar to "Brady
Bonds" issued by South American countries in the late 1980s.
The other main option, the report said, entailed providing
debt relief assistance by buying bonds from investors and then
retiring the debt or extending their maturities -- a plan akin
to the International Monetary Fund's Heavily Indebted Poor
Countries (HIPC) initiative.
"The government has long since started preparing for a Greek
restructuring," the FT quoted one person briefed as saying.
"It's not pushing Greece into this. It knows that none of
these plans will work if the Greeks don't want them."
The report said other options were also being considered but
chancellery and finance ministry officials had spent time
analysing these "market friendly" options.
Leading voices in the German government believe a Greek debt
restructuring is highly probable, people involved in the
discussions have told Reuters.
The German chancellery declined to comment on the FT report,
referring all media inquiries on the matter to the finance
In June the IMF, European Central Bank and European
Commission will examine whether Greece has met the prerequisites
to receive the next tranche of its 110 billion euro bailout
In an interview in Die Welt published last week, Schaeuble
said "additional steps" would need to be taken should the
progress report in June conclude there are doubts about the
fiscal sustainability, adding however any restructuring would
have to be voluntary if done before 2013. [ID:nLDE73D05J]
So far Greece has received 53 billion in four separate
(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner, additional reporting by
Matthias Sobolewski; Editing by Alison Birrane)