Sunday, 25 Oct 2020

Exclusive: EU exploring using bond auctions for pandemic-linked debt sales

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The European Commission is exploring using auctions to sell bonds as it prepares to ramp up debt issuance to finance the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery programmes, the EU Commissionner for Budget and Administration said on Tuesday.

“The Commission’s immediate focus is the issuance of the SURE bonds, due later this month,” Johannes Hahn said referring to the EU’s unemployment scheme that will be backed by around 100 billion euros of debt.

“Beyond that, the Commission is exploring all options for a scaled up issuance volume, including using auctions for its issuances,” Hahn told Reuters in emailed comments.

SURE issuance is expected mostly to rely on bank syndicates to market bonds to investors — the format supranationals such as the EU commonly use. But after that programme, the EU will need to raise finance a 750 billion-euro recovery fund that forms the lion’s share of its support to member states.

Hahn said the Commission was looking into “all options” the market could offer to ensure the liquidity of its debt in secondary markets.

He added that while the Commission already had teams and partners who run its existing borrowing programmes, it would build on these when needed, in light of the higher future issuance volumes.

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