Nigeria working on issuing eurobonds, to pick advisers

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria is working on issuing eurobonds and plans to pick advisers through an open bid process, the head of the debt office told Reuters on Wednesday.

Patience Oniha, the director general of the Debt Management Office (DMO), said the amount to be raised would be within the foreign borrowing plans for 2021. The country budgeted to raise 2.34 trillion naira ($6.14 billion) from foreign sources.

Nigeria had planned a eurobond issue early last year after its sixth sale in 2018 where it raised $2.86 billion. But it decided to defer the 2020 sale due to the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February, it trimmed offshore borrowings in a new debt strategy after it repaid a $500 million eurobond in January. Oniha had said the DMO was monitoring international markets for new issues by frontier countries.

Last week, West African neighbour Ghana raised $3 billion via eurobonds, a year after COVID shut developing countries out.

The Institute of International Finance had said it expected African governments to return to capital markets this year to sell bonds as investors embrace more risk.

The country has been in talks with the World Bank for a $1.5 billion loan but approvals have been delayed due to concerns over reforms to its currency.

Nigeria emerged from its second recession since 2016 in the fourth quarter but growth is fragile. The government expects a 2021 budget deficit of 5.60 trillion naira to be financed largely from foreign and local borrowings.

($1 = 381.00 naira)

Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Alex Richardson and Emelia Sithole-Matarise