Hungary preparing return to international debt markets with Euro and dim sum bonds

By bne IntelliNews January 7, 2016

Hungary plans to return to the international bond market in early 2016 after a hiatus of close to two years, and is preparing both a Eurobond and an issue in Chinese yuan, officials said on January 7.

Budapest will offer a Eurobond denominated in either US dollars or euros in January or February, Economy Minister Mihaly Varga told Bloomberg in an interview. The government is readying for meetings with investors, Varga added without elaborating on the size or maturity of the issue.

“The custom in central and eastern Europe is to finance ourselves as rapidly as possible early in the year so there’s peace and quiet afterwards,” the minister added.

Hungary is due to repay €4.8bn worth of foreign currency debt in 2016, more than double the €2.35bn expiring in 2015. The total includes €1.5bn due to the European Commission and €3.2bn worth of FX bonds.

The same day, state debt manager AKK said it has hired Bank of China to arrange meetings with potential investors interested in a yuan-denominated sovereign bond. It would be the first dim sum bond issued in Central Europe. When presenting the country’s financing plans for this year in December, AKK said it will seek to raise €1bn in FX bonds sales this year, part of it denominated in the Chinese currency.

“This is a non-deal road show that may result in a renminbi-denominated bond issuance in the near future,” an AKK official told Reuters. Varga said last year that the size of the issue could be CNY3bn (€420mn).

Hungary last tapped international debt markets in March 2014, when it raised $3bn. The country’s dollar Eurobonds handed investors a 5.6% yield last year, the best performance among non-euro peers in the European Union’s eastern region, according to the Bloomberg USD Emerging Market Sovereign Bond Index.

Budapest relied solely on domestic debt issuance last year in a bid to drop its currency exposure. The country managed in 2015 to cut the share of external debt in the total state burden to 32% from 50% four years ago. It hopes to trim the ratio to 27% by the end of 2016.

In the meantime, AKK held its first bond auction of the year on January 7, selling a combined HUF53bn in three-, five- and ten-year government bonds. The allotted volume was HUF1bn higher than the original offer due to strong demand for the longest maturity. Yields on the three- and five-year bonds increased to their highest level since mid-August, while ten-year bonds saw yields drop to 3.52% from 3.58% at the previous auction held on December 10.

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