You are here: HomeBusiness2016 08 06Article 460765

Business News of Saturday, 6 August 2016

Source: New Statesman

Ghana fails to raise $1bn from bond market

President John Dramani Mahama with Finance Minister Seth Terkper President John Dramani Mahama with Finance Minister Seth Terkper

-As huge debt frightens investors

Government was yesterday compelled to scrap Ghana's its 4th Eurobond sale, after investors rejected the bond by demanding astronomical rates amidst concerns over the poor health of the economy and the Mahama government's suspicious commitment to fiscal discipline ahead of the December polls. The investors fear the Mahama-led NDC government will once again engage in reckless overspending, as it did in the run-up to the 2012 elections. While issuing a similar bond last year, the country needed the World Bank to underwrite part of it before it was secured at a huge interest rate. But not long, under the previous Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party government, investors were queuing up to oversubscribe bonds that were issued.

Ghana's IMF Programme is currently on the rocks, following the failure of the Fund to present the third review of the Programme to its Board, and the Mahama government's decision to reject a proposal to enact a zero Central Bank financing law. The government instead chose to limit Central Bank financing to 5% of the previous year's revenues. In May, this year, NPP Vice Presidential Candidate, Mahamudu Bawumia, warned the government against going for another Eurobond, citing the high rates it could come at and the current state of the Economy. "With the debt to GDP ratio at 73%, i.e. beyond the threshold of debt sustainability, what is amazing is that the government wants to issue another sovereign bond of some US$1billion this year to add more to the country's debt burden. My humble advice to the government is that 'please don't,' Dr Bawumia cautioned. A statement issued by the Finance Ministry announcing the scrapping of the Bond stated, "the Government will continue to build on this dialog with international investors while monitoring the markets and the IMF Board process with respect to the Third Review of the Program and will issue new notes at the optimal time and the right conditions." The Bloomberg financial journal had raised issues about the high rates investors were demanding for Ghana's bond despite a general fall in the rates of other bonds issued by other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. "The cost of floating the bond looks prohibitively expensive," Celeste Fauconnier, Nema Ramkhelawan-Bhana and Neville Mandimika, analysts at Johannesburg-based RMB, said in a note Tuesday, according to Bloomberg. "The risk of debt distress remains high. We do not believe the faith in the market is strong enough" to prevent an expensive transaction, the RMB analysts said. Reporting on the scrapping of the Bond, Bloomberg disclosed that it was down to investor rejection of the Ghana Bonds and the high rates investors demanded.

"Ghana scrapped plans to sell its fourth Eurobond in as many years, balking at the price investors demanded amid concern that the West African nation may relax its commitment to fiscal targets ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections," the report said.

"It's not an entire surprise," Nicolas Jaquier, an emerging-markets economist at Standard Life Investments Ltd. in London, said. "The timing of the new issue was a bit puzzling, coming to issue a bond just before some of the pending issues with the IMF were being ironed out. That's what kept many investors away," Bloomberg quoted.

"It is 30 percent pricing and 70 percent bad timing," said Richard Segal, an analyst at Manulife Asset Management, who attended an investor meeting Monday and who was also quoted by Bloomberg as saying: "Investors asked more than they were willing to pay."