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Reuters: Greece eyes bond issue in July

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Greece is eyeing its first sovereign bond issue in three years as early as July if its international lenders specify longer term debt relief for the country, and the European Central Bank includes it in its bond-buying program.

Sources familiar with the plan say Athens wants to test market appetite for Greek debt before a current bailout program, worth up to 86 billion euros, expires in mid-2018.

Greeces last venture onto international bond markets was with two issues in 2014, a year before it plunged into crisis in a tense standoff between lenders and Greeces newly elected left-wing government which vowed to end bailout-induced austerity.

That part of the crisis ended with the country signing up to a new bailout, its third since 2010.

"We are considering swapping a five-year (bond) which was issued in 2014, with a new five-year bond, and possibly raising a small amount (over and above) the same issue," a Greek government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The 2014 five-year bond raised 3.0 billion euros.

The move, Greek officials said, is contingent on lenders specifying how the country could restructure an existing mountain of debt, which at 179 percent of gross domestic product is the highest in the euro zone. Euro zone finance ministers are scheduled to discuss Greece on May 22.

A second bond issue could follow by the end of the year, other Greek officials said without providing details. No deal at the EU meeting on Monday could mean pushing back the issue to the autumn, another official said.

Three primary dealers in London confirmed Greek authorities had already started talking on a potential market return.
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