Greece ‘meets bailout conditions’ after debt swap

ATHENS – Greece took an important step towards its second bailout after it managed to win a crucial debt swap, European leaders have said. The Greek deal with banks and other lenders is the largest restructuring of government debt in history, BBC reported.Some lenders who lost money as a result of the debt swap will be compensated. That is after the International Swaps and Derivatives Association classified the deal as a “credit event”, triggering insurance payments.Under the debt swap, banks and other financial institutions have agreed to exchange their existing Greek government debt for new bonds, which are worth much less and pay a lower rate of interest. Some investors bought a type of insurance against that happening. Those payouts could be worth in total up to $3.2bn, only a small fraction of the 105bn euros ($138bn, £88bn) wiped-off Greece’s debt burden. The credit ratings agency, Moody’s declared Greece in default on its debt on Friday. It said the terms of the debt swap met its definition of a default. The company says it will assess the affect of the latest bailout before it assigns Greece a new rating. Eurozone finance ministers said the conditions were now in place for the country to receive its new 130bn-euro (£110bn; $173bn) bailout. “Today the problem is solved,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said.Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos hailed the swap as an “exceptional success”.In a statement after a conference call of finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the 17-nation eurogroup, said “the necessary conditions are in place to launch the relevant national procedures required for the final approval” of its bailout. Finance ministers from the eurozone nations meet on Monday and are expected to officially sign off on Greece’s second bailout. Mr Sarkozy, who faces an election next month, added: “I would like to say how happy I am that a solution to the Greek crisis, which has weighed on the economic and financial situation in Europe and the world for months, has been found.” Holders of 85.8% of debt who are subject to Greek law and 69% of its international debt holders agreed a debt swap, according to the finance ministry.Athens needed to get 75% to push through the deal. The European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that if the debt swap did not go through Greece would not get its latest bailout. EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said he was pleased with the deal but expected Greece to maintain its focus on austerity. “I am very satisfied by the large positive turnout of the voluntary debt exchange in Greece,” he said. And a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said take-up was “encouraging”. IMF head Christine Lagarde said it was “an important step that will dramatically reduce Greece’s medium-term financing needs and contribute to debt sustainability”. The IMF will meet on 15 March to decide what it will contribute to the eurozone bailout.

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