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Meet the market man: Omar Cruz, Philippines treasurer

In less than two years the Philippines has transformed its sovereign debt programme from laggard to leader in emerging markets. The work of the republic’s treasurer, Omar Cruz, lies behind much of the change. Euromoney talks to the Philippines’ market man about the changes and the challenges ahead.

Omar Cruz “I’ve brainwashed my entire team against just borrowing and borrowing, but instead to watch the market and time cashflows and to ride the yield curve”
Omar Cruz

WHEN OMAR CRUZ assumed the role of treasurer of the Philippines in early 2005, Asia’s largest and most frequent sovereign borrower had a mixed reputation with the market as a somewhat unpredictable and opportunistic borrower whose strategies echoed the country’s chaotic political landscape. The political shenanigans are still never far from the headlines but the republic’s treasury has certainly smartened up its act. Benefiting from a strong debt market and an improving fiscal domestic outlook, Cruz announced his intentions in spectacular fashion in January when the Philippines launched its largest ever bond issuance, raising $2.3 billion equivalent, two-thirds of its entire annual funding programme, at record pricing. In July, the balance of the year’s funding was closed from a $750 million tap of two existing bonds – issues that attracted record subscription levels despite weaker demand for emerging market debt. Chris Leahy spoke to Omar Cruz in Manila about the country’s turnaround and what lies ahead.

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