Sri Lanka in US$200mn bond sale

Mar 03, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is seeking buyers for 200 million US dollars of 2-year bonds, which pays a semi-annual coupon, the government’s debt office said, as debt markets remain risk averse and liquidity tight. This month 215 million US dollars of Sri Lanka Development Bonds (SLDBs) are maturing, but the government is seeking to roll-over only 200 million US dollars of bonds.

“We are confidant that the issue will be subscribed without any problems,” said S J P Siriwardena, head of the public debt department, which is a unit of the Central Bank.

The bonds pay a semi-annual coupon based on the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR).

Two years ago the issue sold for an average of 144.06 basis points above LIBOR and the government originally advertised only for a 50 million dollars issue, when bond markets were awash in liquidity.

Now most local banks that subscribed to the issue are also short of dollar liquidity, and the country is in the middle of a balance of payments crisis.

The issue comes shortly after Fitch Ratings cut the outlook on Sri Lanka B+ sovereign rating from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’.