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BEIRUT, March 4 (Reuters) – Proposals are still being floated for Lebanon’s looming Eurobond maturities, including an idea from the finance minister to swap local banks’ holdings for new lower-interest bonds and keep paying the debt, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
The source was confirming a report in Lebanon’s al-Akhar daily, which said that political parties had rejected the idea.
On Tuesday, the newspaper quoted a senior aide to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri as saying his Amal party was against repaying the debt. Berri is one of the most influential figures in the country and his party, which is allied with Iran-backed Hezbollah, named the finance minister in the current cabinet.
As the clock runs down, Lebanon’s government has said it will announce a decision this week on its Eurobonds, which include a $1.2 billion issue maturing on March 9 and others that mature in April and June.
The heavily indebted state is facing an unprecedented economic and financial crisis, which came to a head last year as capital inflows slowed and protests erupted against the ruling elite.
“The banks didn’t respond yet with a yes or no” to Finance Minister Ghazi Wani’s proposal, the source said.
Al-akhbar said the idea includes paying foreign holders of the debt.
The March 2020 Eurobond has rallied 20% this week to around 60 cents in the dollar as market expectations rise about the prospect of the government drawing up a plan that avoids an imminent debt default. The dollar bonds have tumbled in recent months, indicating a growing probability of a default or restructuring at some point. (Reporting by Tom Perry and Ellen Francis; Additional reporting by Tom Arnold in London; Editing by John Stonestreet and Toby Chopra)
LINK ORIGINAL: Reuters