January 27, 2010 / 2:25 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Greece turns to Beijing for 25 bln-euro bond sale-FT

* Greece seeking to sell up to 25 bln euros in China-FT, WSJ

* Greek finmin cited as saying China part of debt roadshow

* Athens, Beijing dismiss mooted stake sale in Greek bank-FT (Recast with Wall Street Journal report on Greek finmin)

SINGAPORE, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Greece is wooing China to buy up to 25 billion euros ($35 billion) of its bonds in its efforts to avert one of Europe’s biggest debt crises, the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs (GS.N) has been promoting a Greek bond sale to Beijing and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), which manages China’s $2.4 trillion foreign exchange reserves, the FT reported, citing people familiar with the issue.

Greece said on Tuesday it will sell more bonds in February, emboldened after its first debt issue of the year was heavily oversubscribed, but the high price will raise pressure for unpopular spending cuts. [ID:nLDE60P2BO]

Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou will visit the United States and Asia, including China, on a road show next month, the WSJ said.

“There is a lot of liquidity in China. There are big funds in China. This is why China is going to be part of the road show,” Papaconstantinou told the WSJ in an interview.

The newspaper cited a source as saying Athens was trying to place as much as 25 billion euros overall with Chinese investors. Greece’s debt is heading above 120 percent of gross domestic product, triggering downgrades by debt rating agencies and market speculation about whether Athens can service its obligations or might even be forced to leave the euro zone.

Greece says it plans to cut its budget deficit this year to 8.7 percent of GDP from 12.7 percent in 2009.

A longer-term stability plan aims to bring the shortfall to 2.8 percent in 2012, within the European Union’s 3 percent limit, but markets doubt whether proposed spending cuts are realistic in a country where reforms often stumbled over street protests.

The FT said Gary Cohn, Goldman Sachs chief operating officer, has made two trips to Athens — last November and this month — to meet Prime Minister George Papandreou and senior officials.

It said Beijing has not agreed to such a purchase.

Athens has rejected a suggestion that a Chinese bank should acquire a strategic stake in National Bank of Greece (NBG) (NBGr.AT), the country’s largest lender, FT said.

Goldman Sachs mooted the sale of equity in NBG to Bank of China (3988.HK), and made a similar proposal to China Investment Corp [CIC.UL], China’s sovereign wealth fund, it reported citing officials.

Chinese officials said CIC was not interested and that regulators would not let Bank of China make such a risky investment, the paper said.

The FT said Goldman Sachs and CIC declined comment and a spokesman from Bank of China said: “I haven’t heard anything about it.”

The paper quoted Apostolos Tamvakakis, NBG’s chief executive as saying he knew nothing about the deal. ($1 = .7108 Euro) (Reporting by Anshuman Daga & Kazunori Takada; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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