U.S. Markets

Ireland issues first ever 100-year debt at 2.35 percent yield

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland issued 100-year debt for the first time on Wednesday, raising 100 million euros at a yield of 2.35 pct, marginally above the rate at which it sold three-month paper on its return to bond markets just four years ago.

With its economy growing faster than any other in Europe and the bond market supported by European Central Bank quantitative easing, Ireland has been issuing longer-dated debt at increasingly lower rates over the past year.

The 100-year note - with a maturity longer than Ireland has existed as an independent state - was sold by private placement via two of the country’s primary bond dealers, Goldman Sachs and Nomura International, the Irish debt agency said.

“This ultra-long maturity is a significant first for Ireland and represents a big vote of confidence in Ireland as a sovereign issuer,” said Frank O’Connor, director of funding at the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).

Ireland was frozen out of debt markets in 2010 before taking an 85 billion euro, three-year international bailout package that was needed to shore up its banks and fix a hole in its public finances following a devastating property crash.

The yield on Ireland’s benchmark 10-year bonds peaked at 15 percent at the height of the euro zone debt crisis in 2011.

When it returned to short-term debt markets in July 2012 after a near two-year hiatus, it had to offer a yield of 1.8 percent to sell 500 million euros of three-month paper.

Earlier this month, investors paid Ireland to borrow similar debt when Dublin sold six-month treasury bills at a yield of -0.22 percent.

Mexico became the first-ever country to sell a euro-denominated century bond last year. Belgium also issued a debut 100-year note while companies like Brazil’s Petrobras and France’s EDF have taken advantage of the low-yield environment to sell paper that will only mature 100 years from now.

Belgium, whose 10-year debt trades just below Ireland’s near record low of 0.75 percent, raised 50 million euros from its 2115 note last August at a yield of 2.50 percent.

Additional reporting by John Geddie and Helene Durand in London; Editing by Gareth Jones