UPDATE 1-Croatia plans first quarter international bond issue

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VIENNA, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Croatia is planning an international bond issue this quarter and aims to raise 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) on international markets in 2017, though the total will depend on market conditions, Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said on Tuesday.

“In Q1, you can expect that we are going to do some domestic bonds, domestic transactions but we are also planning to tap the international markets,” Maric told reporters on the sidelines of a Euromoney conference in Vienna, adding that it was too early to say if the international bond would be in euros or dollars.

“In our budget for the whole year we budgeted roughly 1.5 billion euros but obviously the decision that we will eventually make will also be dependent on the conditions of the market,” he said.

Early next month Croatia plans to tap the local bond market to refinance a maturing 10-year bond worth 5.5 billion kuna ($780.01 million). The maturity and the final amount have yet to be determined.

The international issue is primarily directed at refinancing an international bond worth $1.5 billion maturing on April 27.

Altogether Croatia plans to issue bonds this year worth close to 30 billion kuna and in addition it will need to tap the market to finance the central government budget gap seen at 1.9 percent of gross domestic product, or close to seven billion kuna.

The 2017 general budget gap, which includes municipalities and state firms and agencies, is planned at 1.6 percent of GDP. ($1 = 0.9364 euros) ($1 = 7.0512 kuna) (Reporting by Francois Murphy, additional reporting by Igor Ilic in Zagreb, edited by Jeremy Gaunt)