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SL gets closer to IMF funds with local bond swap deal

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Sri Lanka accepted almost all the offers to exchange defaulted local debt for new bonds, putting the nation closer to its goal of completing its debt restructuring this year.

The island nation received 3.2 trillion rupees (S$13.5 billion) of offers from superannuation funds, according to a statement on the finance ministry’s website on Tuesday (Sep 12). The Sri Lankan rupee and the 7.55% 2030 bond were little changed, according to indicative pricing compiled by Bloomberg.

The move boosts the chances Sri Lanka will pass the International Monetary Fund’s first review of its US$3 billion bailout starting this week, paving the way for a disbursement of about US$330 million by November.

The focus now turns to the nation’s debt negotiations with holders of its foreign debt, including creditors such as China and India.

“It’s an important milestone for sure, but to complete the IMF review, the government will also need to reach an agreement with the bilateral lenders,” said Saurav Anand, South Asia economist at Standard Chartered. The Sri Lankan president’s visit to China and IMF annual meetings next month are key developments to watch for, he said.

The domestic debt restructuring also involves about 2.6 trillion rupees of bills owned by the central bank, while the rest are dollar-denominated papers mainly held by domestic banks, the government said in June. (www.businesstimes.com.sg)

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