Ivory Coast Tests Euro Debt Market in First Foray Since Pandemic

Ivory Coast is preparing to sell sub-Saharan Africa’s first euro-denominated bonds since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to lock in lower borrowing costs with emerging-market debt yields at record lows.

The West African nation mandated BNP Paribas SA, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Standard Chartered Plc for investor meetings on Monday and a possible benchmark-sized offer of euro debt with a 10.2-year weighted average life, according to a person familiar with the matter. The country is also tendering to buy back as much as $825 million of its own dollar debt that will mature from 2028, according to a government statement.

There has been no international sovereign bond issuance from sub-Saharan Africa since February, before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, with a number of nations relying on funding from multilateral lenders such as the International Monetary Fund. Other emerging-market borrowers such as Mexico and Russia have tapped markets in recent weeks to benefit from yields that have fallen to their lowest on record.

The world’s biggest cocoa producer, which is rated six levels below investment grade by Moody’s Investors Service and a step lower by Fitch Ratings, has increasingly turned to euro debt in recent years for its external borrowing needs. It sold 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in October last year to benefit from its currency’s peg to the common currency.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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