Ethiopia starts marketing debut Eurobond with 6.75 percent yield

by Zelalem

Ethiopia has begun marketing its debut, 10-year Eurobond with a yield of 6.75 percent, Thomson Reuters news service IFR reported on Wednesday, the latest African sovereign to make a foray into the international debt markets.

Ethiopia has said the funds would be used to finance new infrastructure for the Horn of Africa nation, which battled against famine three decades ago and now boasts some of the fastest economic growth in Africa.

IFR cited a lead bank for its report, without naming the institution. Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan are the lead managers.

Pricing could come as soon as Thursday for the bond which bankers have said was expected to raise $1 billion.

Other African bond issues have been snapped up by investors.

Kenya’s $2 billion Eurobond in June was heavily oversubscribed, and when Kenya increased the size of the 10-year tranche last week it sold at a yield of 5.90 percent.

“This is a country (Ethiopia) coming from nowhere, which used to be a symbol of absolute misery but I would say the risk of default is practically zero,” Regis Chatellier, credit strategist at Societe Generale, said before the announcement.

The International Monetary Fund in a September report estimated Ethiopia’s public debt at 44.7 percent of GDP in fiscal 2013/14 and forecast a rise to 50.6 percent in 2014/15.

The IMF said the risk of Ethiopia facing external and public “debt distress” remained low but said it was on the “cusp of a transition to moderate” risk.

Ethiopia, whose economy has been expanding at about 9 percent according to the IMF, was awarded a ‘B’ rating with a stable outlook by Fitch, compared with Kenya’s ‘B+’.

Investors have hankered after investments in Ethiopia but have often been frustrated by the heavy state role, which means key industries such as banking and telecommunications are kept out of reach of foreigners.

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