December 4, 2017 / 9:46 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Zambia to start refinancing Eurobonds in 2019 to ease debt

(Adds quote, details)

LUSAKA, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Zambia will begin refinancing Eurobonds worth $2.8 billion in 2019 to reduce the cost of debt servicing for Africa’s No.2 copper producer, a senior government official said on Monday.

Zambia and the IMF agreed in October to chart a new path towards debt sustainability after the IMF delayed the conclusion of talks with Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, saying it was at high risk of debt distress.

Mukuli Chikuba, the permanent secretary in the ministry of finance, said the southern African nation’s debt rose from 35 percent of GDP to 60 percent between 2015 and 2016 partly due to the Eurobonds, which were issued from 2012 to 2015.

The country would either buy back the debt in Zambia’s name or find other investors to do so over a longer period, he said.

“We are remaining with just a few more years before the first Eurobond is due. By 2019 or so we will start the refinancing,” Chikuba said. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by James Macharia)

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