Kenya to buy back Eurobond in February or March

Kenya’s President William Ruto

Kenya’s President William Ruto speaking during a past press briefing. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

Kenya is looking to buy back in February or March at least some of its $2 billion Eurobond, President William Ruto told Reuters on Tuesday, dismissing any risk the country would default.

Falling hard currency reserves, a steep weakening of the local currency and revenue challenges have raised questions about Kenya's ability to pay off the bond, which matures in June.

President Ruto had told Parliament in November that Kenya would buy back $300 million of the Eurobond before the end of 2023, but he said the government's transaction advisers ultimately recommended against doing so.

"What they have recommended is we do a buyback in February, March, and then we go to the market," he said in an interview in Rome, on the sidelines of the Italy-Africa summit.

"Thank God they were right. In fact, the markets have opened for Kenya, as it has for most other countries," Dr Ruto said.

After surging over the past two years due to concerns about heavy indebtedness and high interest rates in advanced economies, yields on dollar bonds issued by frontier economies have started to come off in recent months.

Cote d'Ivoire successfully raised $2.6 billion this month through two bonds that were both oversubscribed.

Dr Ruto also said the government was no longer counting on the Trade and Development Bank (TDB), an African development finance institution, to organise a $1 billion syndicated loan for Kenya, as initially planned.

Treasury said earlier this month that TDB had lent Kenya $210 million of that total, but that the remaining funds had not been delivered.

"Because of the situation that we now see in the market, we believe that it would be a lot easier even for us to raise that money in the market, rather than through syndication," President Ruto said.

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