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Greece: carrying on consolidating

Sovereign borrowers

Greece continues to amaze everyone

No eurozone sovereign has come further since joining the euro than the Hellenic Republic. When Greece set up a public debt management agency, its fast-improving fundamentals were marred by a large and fragmented national debt. Like Italy before it, Greece managed to turn this into an advantage by maximizing its debt's liquidity, consolidating a mass of discrete FRNs into a true benchmark curve.

Before accession, its average outstanding issue size was between e2 billion and e3 billion. Now that has grown to between e6 billion and e8 billion. In the same period, Greece has been upgraded no less than five times by the major rating agencies, most recently in November 2002 to A1 from A2 by Moody's. Bankers point out that it is easier to improve credit standing from a lower base but this does not detract from Greece's achievement. At the end of 2000, only two Greek bonds were eligible to trade on EuroMTS. Now 11 have attained that status.

All new benchmark deals are syndicated, with the focus on wide international distribution, and Greece is committed to getting them all listed on EuroMTS within a few months of issue.

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