NTMA to announce new bond auctions soon

Monday 20 January 2014 17.04
NTMA's John Corrigan says announcement on next planned auction within the next 2 weeks
NTMA's John Corrigan says announcement on next planned auction within the next 2 weeks

The country's debt agency expects to announce the first of a series of bond auctions over the next two weeks after the Moody's upgrade. 

The head of the National Treasury Management Agency said he would announce the first of a series of modest bond auctions, to raise a total of €4 billion by the end of the year, "probably in the next week or two".

John Corrigan said the upgrade of Ireland's status by Moody's had been welcomed by the markets and had resulted in a "fairly sharp reduction" in bond yields this morning.

He said this was welcome news, as the country still had a substantial amount to borrow this year - around €4 billion. Each one tenth of one percentage point fall represented a saving of €1m per year, he explained.

The NTMA chief executive said that some investors in the Middle and Far East required a borrower to have an investment grade rating from all of the three major credit ratings agencies, and the Moody's move had brought Ireland into "the investment universe of a new constituency of investors".

He said that in recent times, Japan, which would have been a major holder of Irish debt, had showed very little interest.

"What we're seeing now is interest coming in from those regions because we now are part of their investment universe,"  he added.

Mr Corrigan said Ireland was fully funded for 2014, and the NTMA was now looking at 2015 when a total of €8 billion was required. €4 billion has already been raised. 

"We would hope to raise that €4 billion through a modest programme of auctions. It's important to demonstrate that we have regular access to the market, and an auction programme would achieve that. We will see where the market settles after the Moody's upgrade this week and we'll probably move towards making an announcement in the next week or two," Mr Corrigan stated.

Moody's, which was the only rating agency to class Irish Government debt as "junk", on Friday night raised it to Baa3 from Ba1 with a positive outlook, citing the economy's growth potential and restored market access as the main drivers.

Standards and Poor's and Fitch rate Irish debt three notches above junk status at BBB+. S&P lifted its outlook to positive last year while Fitch, which is next in line to give an update in a month's time, has a stable outlook.