Portugal is selling 10-year bonds for the first time in more than two years as it seeks to regain full access to debt markets following its 2011 bailout.
The new securities due in February 2024 may yield 400 basis points more than the mid-swap rate, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak about it. Investors have submitted bids for more than 9 billion euros ($11.8 billion) of debt, compared with the 3 billion euros being sold, Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar told reporters in Brussels.
The sale is being arranged by Caixa-Banco de Investimento, Citigroup Inc., Credit Agricole SA, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc and Societe Generale SA, a person who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak about the transaction said yesterday.
Portugal is selling the bonds as yields on the country’s existing 10-year securities are at the lowest since 2010 and a decline in interest rates worldwide is leading investors to seek higher-yielding assets. The nation stopped selling bonds until this year after requesting a 78 billion-euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund in April 2011 following a surge in debt levels and borrowing costs.
“Portugal’s sale is important because it marks another step in the exit from the crisis,” said Luca Cazzulani, a senior rates strategist at UniCredit SpA in Milan. “In the current market environment, there will probably be demand. Investors are rushing into anything that grants you a good yield and when you look at the Portuguese curve the 10-year is around 5.50% and so I think the sale will find demand.”
The nation’s 10-year yield was little changed at 5.51% at 2:49 p.m. in London after dropping to 5.44%, the lowest since August 2010. The two-year yield fell 14 basis points, or 0.14 percentage point, to 2.42%, and the five- year rate declined seven basis points to 4.15%.
Portugal last auctioned 10-year bonds in January 2011 at a yield of 6.716%. Today’s offering is the country’s first sale of a new bond since it raised 3.5 billion euros from selling five-year notes in February 2011.
Portugal’s 10-year yield fell below 6% in January for the first time since 2010, encouraging the nation to follow Ireland in selling bonds via banks. The nation sold 2.5 billion euros of five-year notes at a yield of 4.891% on Jan. 23, the first offering of that maturity since February 2011.
About 93% of the five-year securities were sold to overseas investors, including 33% to the U.S. and 29% to the U.K., the debt agency said. About 60% were taken up by asset managers and 24% by hedge funds.
“We’ve already been able to totally finance our needs for this year and are starting the pre-financing for 2014 to ensure that we are in condition to successfully exit the adjustment program,” Gaspar said. “The 10-year maturity is very important because it completes the yield curve and so completes our process of returning to bond markets.”
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said in September debt purchases may be considered for euro-area countries currently under bailout programs, such as Portugal, Greece and Ireland, when they regain bond-market access. Outright Monetary Transactions “would not apply to countries that are under a full adjustment program until full market access will be obtained,” Draghi said Oct. 4.
“Regarding OMT eligibility, I think that Portugal not only needs to issue in more points of the curve but also more than one time per point of the curve, like Draghi hinted over the last press conferences,” said Ricardo Santos, an economist at BNP Paribas SA in London.
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho on May 3 announced measures intended to generate savings of about 4.8 billion euros through 2015 that include reducing the number of state workers as he tries to meet deficit targets.
The spending cuts will allow Portugal to complete the seventh review of its bailout plan and secure an extension of rescue loans that was agreed upon in principle on April 12 by EU finance ministers meeting in Dublin.
Ireland and Portugal both received rescue loans from two different programs: The EU-wide European Financial Stabilization Mechanism and the euro-area’s temporary firewall, the European Financial Stability Facility.
The seven-year extension to maturities of EFSM and EFSF aid loans to Portugal and Ireland implies an increase in the average maturity of Portugal’s total debt to about 8.5 years from about seven years, debt agency IGCP said on April 19. The maturity extension is “likely to be especially focused in lengthening the maturity of the loans originally maturing in 2016-2022,” which total about 22 billion euros, according to IGCP.
Portuguese bonds returned 5.8% this year through yesterday, according to indexes compiled by Bloomberg and the European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies. Spain’s rose 8.6% and Germany’s gained 0.8%.
The extra yield investors demand to hold Portugal’s 10-year bonds instead of German bunds has narrowed to 4.21 percentage points today from a euro-era record of 16 percentage points in January 2012.