Greece, private creditors on verge of clinching debt deal

ATHENS - Greece and its private creditors said on Saturday they were piecing together the final elements of a debt swap and expected to have a deal ready next week, essential for sealing a new bailout and avoiding an uncontrolled default.

By Lefteris Papadimas And ?renee Maltezou (Reuters)

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Published: Mon 30 Jan 2012, 10:52 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:22 AM

After muddling through round after round of inconclusive talks, the negotiations are in their final phase — though it appeared unlikely that a preliminary deal would be secured in time for a European Union summit on Monday.

Greek bondholders said the two sides were finalising a deal along the lines of a proposal made by Jean-Claude Juncker, the chairman of eurozone finance ministers.

The bondholders’ comments suggested creditors had accepted Juncker’s demand for a coupon, or interest rate, of below four per cent on new, longer-dated bonds that Athens will swap for existing debt.

The coupon had been the main stumbling block in the talks, with eurozone ministers rejecting private creditors’ demand for a coupon of at least four per cent — above the 3.5 per cent level Greece and its European partners had been holding out for.

“Next week we will be in a position to complete the debt swap,” Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said, citing significant progress at Saturday’s talks. “We are really one step away from the final deal.”

He confirmed that the two sides were working along the “exact framework” provided by eurozone finance ministers.

Charles Dallara, chief of the Institute of International Finance that negotiates on behalf of banks and insurers, is due to leave Athens on Sunday but will remain in contact with Greek authorities, the IIF said.

Still, for Athens, progress on the debt swap is at risk of being overshadowed by increasingly problematic talks with its foreign lenders, whose inspectors are in town demanding unpopular reforms that no politician wants to be linked to.

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