Monday, March 28, 2011

Greece hopes diaspora bonds will raise $3bn

by Helena Smith

March 28, 2011

Newly invigorated by the European Union's decision to ease the terms of its gargantuan bailout, debt-stricken Greece has begun wooing its wealthy community overseas in the hope that it will rally around the homeland.

Athens hopes that a winning mix of nostalgia for the old country and the whiff of a good deal will entice ethnic Greeks abroad to buy diaspora bonds. The socialist government recently filed a shelf-registration with US regulators to proceed with the issue, in what officials called a prelude to the country re-entering capital markets.

"When the Israelis went through a similar crisis they found a new weapon through diaspora bonds," the deputy foreign minister, Dimitris Dollis, told the Guardian. "After talks with the Jewish lobby in the US, and leadership in Israel, we decided to issue them too."

Originally announced in New York by Greece's US-born prime minister George Papandreou, himself a product of the diaspora, the programme foresees Athens raising up to $3bn (£1.9bn) from the bonds in a series of quarterly sales. Officials say they are aiming for a yield of below 5% with likely maturities of between three and 10 years.


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