DUBLIN Jan 6 Ireland is to test international
bond markets for the first time since exiting its EU/IMF bailout
with a new syndicated 10-year bond, the country's debt agency
said on Monday.
The sale, which traders said was likely within days, will be
Dublin's first bond issue since March, when it sold 5 billion
euros of 10-year paper.
It will be a test of market confidence in Ireland's
recovering economy and set a benchmark for Greece, Portugal and
Cyprus, the three euro zone states still under sovereign bailout
Dublin, which formally exited its EU/IMF bailout on Dec. 15,
is already funded into 2015.
But its NTMA debt agency wants to resume regular bond
auctions to demonstrate the country had returned to "business as
usual" and to insure itself against possible future market
The agency gave no details of the size of the issue, while a
source familiar with the transaction said guidance was for
around 3 billion euros.
Ireland's economy, which has shown signs of picking up steam
- the jobless rate has fallen to 12.5 percent from a 2012 peak
of 15.1 percent, property prices have started to rebound and the
government sees GDP growing by 2 percent this year.
Having peaked above 15 percent in 2011, yields on 10-year
Irish bonds have dropped to about 3.4 percent - lower than rates
of just over 3.9 percent for comparable debt from Spain and
Italy, neither of which suffered the embarrassment of a
That suggests market confidence in Ireland's economy is
relatively buoyant, though some investors are concerned about
its national debt, which at 124 percent of GDP is among the
highest in the EU.
The NTMA said in a statement it had picked Barclays
, Citi Bank, Danske Bank, Deutsche
Bank, Morgan Stanley and Davy Stockbrokers for
a new ten-year euro benchmark transaction.
"Given the level of (10-year yield) where we're trading at
the moment, it makes total sense for the NTMA to issue," said
Fergal O'Leary of Glas Securities.
The NTMA said the bond would be issued in the near future,
with several traders saying it was likely to come in the next
day or two.
That would be slightly earlier than expected, after Finance
Minister Michael Noonan said in December that Ireland would hold
a sale of 10-year debt in late January or early February.