Sri Lanka to issue US$500mn sovereign bond in Sept-Oct: report

Aug 13, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will issue a 500 million US dollar 5-year sovereign bond in late September or early October to international investors, a media report said. “Minimum benchmark size in the international capital market is $500 million,” Reuters news agency quoted C.J.P. Siriwardena, head of Sri Lanka’s government debt office as saying.

“So our plan is to go for maximum $500 million.”

The report said officials were hoping to sell the bond at around 7.0 percent. In 2007 Sri Lanka sold a 5-year bond for 8.25 percent.

A Sri Lankan government team had already been on a road show arranged by HSBC to gauge investor interest ahead of a debt offering. Sri Lanka’s central bank governor Nivard Cabraal said investors were ‘bullish’ on Sri Lanka.

A 30-year separatist war ended in May, and the government wants to reconstruct war torn areas.

In July Sri Lanka got a 2.6 billion US dollar loan from International Monetary Fund and there are hopes that fiscal prudence may return, allowing the economy to stabilize, and inflation and interest rates to fall.

The government is committed to a 7.0 percent budget deficit this year, but with economic growth officially down to 1.5 percent in the first quarter tax revenues have fallen in nominal terms.

To allow the private sector space to grow an injection of foreign money to the budget is needed this year. The IMF has urged the authorities to explore concessionary aid, though officials say the program has ample space for commercial borrowing.