Volatility in Italian government debt has made it harder for Greece to return to bond markets, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told Reuters, but said he is comfortable with waiting for the right time to raise funds.
A recent selloff in Italian government debt has pushed up the borrowing costs of other Southern European countries, including Greece.
But Tsakalotos told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference on Friday that his country’s financing needs are under control.
Greece, which exited that last of its bailout programs in August, has agreed debt relief measures with its euro zone partners. These extend maturities on some loans and soften the interest rate burden on others. Athens also has a 24 billion euro cash buffer, which will help to improve debt sustainability over the medium term.
Tsakalotos said Athens would return to the bond market at the optimal time, and played down the Italian bond selloff.
“It has made it a little harder but on the other hand I think markets are now becoming more sophisticated in understanding that Greece has finished its program, it has done a huge amount of reforms, it’s got a buffer so that its financing needs are under control for at least 2-1/2 years,” he said.
“Also it has got a debt deal that means financing its debt is easier than it is in Portugal and Italy.”
Asked if Greece will attempt a bond sale this year through syndication — where banks are appointed to sell debt directly to investors — Tsakalotos said he will leave the timing up to Greece’s debt agency chief.
“He has instructions from the government that when markets are appropriate, we would like to go. But it’s his job to do the research and to tell us when it is the optimal time,” he said.
“We’re comfortable that we can wait since we have the buffer, but that doesn’t mean we won’t go when the time is right, and I think the time will be right over the medium term.”