Argentina returns to bond market after 15-year isolation

Mauricio Macri Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Argentine President Mauricio Macri has worked to reach a deal with the country's lenders

Argentina has returned to the international borrowing markets with a sale of sovereign bonds that ends 15 years of exile since its 2001 default.

The country is raising up to $15bn, but demand for the bond issue was strong and attracted orders worth $65bn.

Some of the money will go to repaying bondholders who for years opposed the terms of Argentina's debt restructuring after the default 15 years ago.

"Argentina is back," said Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay.

The money will be repaid over between three to 30 years, depending on the type of bond, with Argentina paying an interest rate of between 6.4% and 8%.

Final details of the fundraising were due to be announced on Tuesday, but investors welcomed Argentina's return from years of isolation from the international bond markets.

"It is fantastic that Argentina is accessing the market," said John Baur, a portfolio manager at Eaton Vance. "This is certainly a very important step in the direction of improving the future of Argentina economically."

Key to paving the way for the bond launch was agreeing a deal with creditors who fought a lengthy legal battle with Argentina after refusing the terms of a previous restructuring.

In February, Buenos Aires reached a $4.7bn agreement with these creditors, led by hedge funds Elliott Management and Aurelius Capital.

'Major step forward'

Argentina's previous President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, called these bondholders "vultures" and refused to negotiate with them.

But settling the country's debt default was one of the main campaign promises made by President Mauricio Macri, who came to power in December last year.

The bulk of the funds raised will be used to bolster Argentina's struggling economy.

The bond sale "is a major step forward," said Agustin Carstens, head of the International Monetary Fund's Monetary and Financial Committee. "It is very good to have a country as important as Argentina putting the house in order."

The IMF forecasts that Argentina's economy will contract by 1% this year and grow by 2.8% in 2017.

Credit rating agency Moody's raised Argentina's sovereign rating on Friday ahead of the bond sale. The country still ranks as a speculative investment with a "high credit risk".

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