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ECB Bond Swap Said to Exclude Central Bank Investment Portfolios

The European Central Bank’s Greek bond swap doesn’t include assets held in national central banks’ investment portfolios, a euro-area central bank official said.

Central banks will have to negotiate individually with Greece over whether Greek bonds in their portfolios can be swapped for assets that are exempt from a debt restructuring, the official said on condition of anonymity. The ECB and national central banks have already swapped the Greek bonds acquired in the Securities Markets Program for similar assets that are exempt from so-called collective action clauses, the person said.

Because central banks didn’t sell their Greek bonds as the ECB purchased securities to calm markets, they can argue the investment portfolios indirectly aided Greece, the official said. Germany’s Bundesbank has no Greek bonds in its investment portfolio, the official said.

Central banks in the 17-nation euro area are barred by the region’s founding treaty from directly financing governments.

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