Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said the country is preparing to sell $5 billion to $10 billion in century bonds by the end of the year at a time when rising U.S. rates are making investors wary of emerging-market debt. The cedi fell to a record.
In what will be the world’s biggest sovereign issuance of 100-year dollar-denominated securities and the first by an African country should the deal proceed, Ghana is planning to raise the debt as the first tranche of a $50 billion bond, Ofori-Atta said in an interview Tuesday in the capital, Accra. The $50 billion will be raised “in bits” through a shelf offering, which allows issuers to a register a security without selling the entire issue at once, said Ofori-Atta.
The sale will help Ghana to pay off existing debt, build factories and overcome an estimated shortfall of $7 billion in annual infrastructure spending, said Ofori-Atta. More detail about the bond will be made public when he presents the country’s budget for 2019 to lawmakers on Nov. 15, said Ofori-Atta.
“It sounds optimistic,” Kieran Curtis, a money manager in London at Aberdeen Standard Investments, which owns Ghanaian bonds, said by telephone. “It’s difficult to believe there is $10 billion of demand out there. This would be outside what you’d expect for their financing needs.”
Ghana’s issuance plan comes at a time when emerging-market dollar-bond sales are dwindling as rising U.S. rates dampen investor appetite for high-yielding assets. Average yields on emerging-market dollar debt have climbed almost 100 basis points since April amid a sell-off sparked by crises in Argentina and Turkey, according to Bloomberg indexes.
The cedi on Wednesday slipped the most since July on a closing basis, falling 2.6 percent and breaching 5 per dollar for the first time on record. It traded at 5.0013 by 7:11 a.m. in Accra, bringing its drop for the year to almost 10 percent.
Only China, Argentina and Mexico have previously issued 100-year dollar debt, of which Mexico’s $2.7 billion deal in October 2010 was the biggest. Yields on Ghana’s 2049 dollar bonds were little changed on Wednesday after rising 3 basis points to 8.63 percent on Tuesday, the most in a week.
An issuance by year-end will be Ghana’s second sale of Eurobonds in 2018 after raising $2 billion in 10- and 30-year securities in May. Earlier this year, the country weighed selling so-called Panda bonds in mainland China and Samurai notes in Japan before abandoning the idea.
Ghana is in the final year of an almost $1 billion bailout program with the International Monetary Fund that started in 2015 after the value of the cedi collapsed and debt ballooned.
Total public debt measured 65.9 percent of gross domestic product at the end of July, compared with 67.4 percent at the same time in 2017, according to the central bank’s data. External debt totaled $18.2 billion, 54 percent of the total $33.9 billion of debt, according to the central bank.