Lebanon's central bank
Lebanon – Riyad Shumann
Lebanon’s Finance Ministry exchanged local-currency debt held by the central bank with $2 billion in dollar-denominated bonds.
The government issued $500 million of 4.1 percent notes due June 2015
, $700 million of 5.15 percent bonds maturing in June 2018 and $800 million of 6.25 percent securities due June 2025, according to information on the ministry’s website.
“The exchange with the Finance Ministry helps the central bank reduce its holdings of treasury bills and improve the level of its assets in foreign currency,” Nassib Ghobril, chief economist at Byblos Bank SAL said Tuesday. “This is one way to improve its ability to protect the currency even further.”
Lebanon’s banks have been reducing their exposure to government debt since 2009, Salameh said on May 11. The yield on local-currency government debt rose 50 basis points since March, in line with an International Monetary Fund recommendation that higher rates would help spur bank demand for the securities. The yield on three-year notes was at 6.5 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The central bank held the equivalent of about $12.3 billion of local currency bills as of the end of April, and it also owns about $1.28 billion of Eurobonds, Ghobril said.
Lebanon is rated B1 at Moody’s Investors Service, four levels below investment grade. Standard & Poor’s rates the country one level lower at B.