Nigeria shops for low-interest foreign loans

Nigeria shops for low-interest foreign loans

Friday, February 5, 2016 9:44 pm

Nigeria wants to tap financing at “concessionary rates” as low as 1.5 percent from international agencies to fund infrastructure projects before returning to the eurobond market, its finance minister said on Friday.

Tumbling oil prices have hit the country’s finances hard, and yields on the most liquid 5-year bond are hovering above 12 percent, as are the benchmark 20-year bonds.

Nigeria has held exploratory talks with the World Bank and looked at borrowing from the African and China Exim Bank to help fund a projected budget deficit of 3.3 trillion naira in 2016.

“(The) government was seeking the lowest cost funds and was therefore consulting with the multilateral agencies, which offered concessional rates of interest as low as 1.5 per cent, before looking at the commercial Eurobond Market,” Kemi Adeosun said in a statement. She gave no details.

She said Nigeria wanted to restructure existing short-term debt and align the government’s investment plans with its budget, adding that projects undertaken would have to generate revenues to repay the loans.

Nigeria raised $1 billion in eurobonds at around 6 percent in 2013 with a 10-year maturity. But oil prices slumped late in 2014 from record highs.

Nigeria’s statistics office on Thursday forecast economic growth to pick up to 3.78 percent this year and around 5 percent in 2017 as new projects take off.

Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio averages a relatively low 14 percent. However, total debt has risen to 12.60 trillion naira ($65 billion) as of December 2015, from 11.2 trillion naira in 2014.

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