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Queuing Up

Central Bank officials say J P Morgan, HSBC and Solomon Smith Barney the investment-banking arm of Citi Group have expressed interest to raise up to US$ 400 mn for the government.

rnAnalysts say the government may even raise as much as US$ 500 mn if the rates are favorable.

rnIn the budget the government said it was only planning to raise US$ 200 mn from international markets.

rnAn unspecified volume was expected from a ten-year reconstruction bond.

rnBut now the government seems to have scrapped the reconstruction bond.rnCabinet approval for the international fund raising effort is expected within the next two weeks.

rnrnOfficials quote say that relevant documents have been forwarded to the Finance minister who will seek cabinet approval under the Foreign loan Act.

rnHowever the modalities including the interest rate and tenure of the loan are yet to be worked out as the three investment banks have submitted varying proposals.

rnOptions include a syndicated loan, a sovereign bond issue or a medium-term note.

rnThe tenure could range from two years for a medium term note to seven years for a sovereign bond issue.

rnMarket players say that the government would have to get sovereign ratings from the top international rating agencies - S&P, Moodys and Fitch - if the sovereign bond option is taken.

rnThe advantage being that the bond could be issued for a long term of up to seven years.

rnHowever others warn that exaggerated statements made by ministers with monotonous regularity about the inability of the government to meet its debt obligations may be tarnishing Sri Lanka quote s credit standing.

rnSo far Sri Lanka has not defaulted on a single debt obligation.(LBR)rn

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