October 19, 2016 / 8:37 PM / 2 years ago

Suriname makes international bond market debut

NEW YORK, Oct 19 (IFR) - Suriname debuted in the international bond markets on Wednesday, selling a US$550m 10-year deal snapped up by investors who shrugged off any jitters over political or economic risk.

The tiny South American country drew solid buyside interest, allowing leads to ratchet in pricing 25bp to 9.25% from initial price thoughts of 9.5% area.

Some in the market had thought high 9s to 10 more suitable, but the B1/B+/B+ rated deal drew a decent crowd thanks to index eligibility and a nice pick-up to African sovereigns.

“This is a commodity story,” one investor told IFR. “That is why they are comping against African countries.”

These included Ghana (B3/B-/B)and Zambia (B3/B/B), which had 2026s and 2027s trading at around 8.65% and 9% respectively, according to the investor.

The trade came wide to Ecuador’s 2024s, which were being spotted at 9%.

“No one was using the Dominican Republic and El Salvador as comps,” said the investor.

The International Monetary Fund has provided a two-year stand-by agreement with Suriname, which Fitch Ratings said would improve liquidity and stabilize the exchange rate.

But some investors remain concerned about the commitment to reform in Suriname, where President Desi Bouterse is in his second stint in power. His first came in a military coup.

His son was sentenced to over 16 years in prison last year after pleading guilty to charges of offering Suriname as a home base to Lebanese paramilitary group Hezbollah.

All three major ratings agencies demoted Suriname to Single B earlier in 2016 amid rising debt levels and a deteriorating economic backdrop.

“Risks are political and execution-related to implementing the remainder of the structural reforms in electricity and fuel prices,” said Invesco senior portfolio manager Sean Newman.

For now, demand, which according to one investor hit some US$1.65bn, was sustaining prices in the secondary market, where the bond leapt 1.50-2.50 points on the break.

Oppenheimer and Scotiabank acted as joint bookrunners on the 144a/Reg S deal. (Reporting by Paul Kilby; Editing by Marc Carnegie)

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