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Ireland Sticks to Plan for Bond Market Return by Early 2013

Ireland’s bond agency is sticking with its plan to return to long-term debt markets by early 2013 as the government targets a deal with European leaders to ease the cost of its bank rescues.

The National Treasury Management Agency said today it aims to hold three or four more auctions of short-term debt this year, after the sale of 500 million euros ($613 million) in three-month bills on July 5. The burden from the rescue of the country’s lenders remains a hurdle to selling bonds, Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said at the NTMA briefing.

Noonan said he would ask European authorities to place a significantly higher value on the nation’s investments in banks than currently applies, in the event of a retrospective recapitalization of the lenders. The International Monetary Fund urged European leaders yesterday to deliver on their pledge to break the link between governments and banks.

“A significant deal on bank debt would, of course, greatly enhance the prospects of returning to the markets in a timely and sustainable manner,” NTMA Chief Executive Officer John Corrigan said. A “sustainable re-entry” depends on Ireland sticking to its bailout program and a resolution of the euro-area financial crisis, according to Corrigan.

The NTMA also said it wants to diversify its sources of funding through the first Irish sovereign issuance of amortizing bonds and inflation-linked bonds. The NTMA may sell between 3 billion euros and 5 billion euros of the new debt instruments during the next 18 months, as it targets domestic pension funds.

Bailout Cost

Ireland has pledged or injected about 64 billion euros to save its financial system. The bailout cost is about 40 percent of gross domestic product, accounting for about half the rise in net public debt in recent years, according to the IMF.

Noonan said this week after a meeting with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi that the country is “making progress” in easing the terms of the rescue. The yield on Ireland’s 5 percent security due in October 2020 rose 1 basis point 6.27 percent.

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