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Greece

Greek buy-back program helps lighten debt load

Greek sovereign debt managers have confirmed the successful completion of the country's program for buying back state bonds. The scheme has left Athens with less debt, as it awaits more international loans.

Greece reported on Wednesday it had completed its bond buy-back scheme as a prerequisite for being granted another tranche of emergency loans from its international creditors.

The country's debt management agency said the offers made until Tuesday's deadline would mean Greece would be able to buy back 31.9 billion euros ($41.5 billion) worth of its bonds. It added it would take back half of its privately-held bonds for roughly 33.8 percent of their face value.

The agency stressed that the country would thus be able to write off more than 20 billion euros of debt, having spent only 11.3 billion euros for the bond purchase.

Another shot in the arm

The successful buyback deal was a major requirement for Greece to be entitled to more emergency loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Athens said it expected the 34.4-billion-euro tranche to be approved by creditors on Thursday.

The buyback action was part of a larger scheme to help Greece get on its feet again economically.

The country's total debt load is expected to reach 190 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) next year, while creditors want to see that figure reduced to 124 percent by the end of the decade.

hg/msh (AFP, AP)