The yield on the deal was confirmed at 4.95 per cent – much lower than most analysts expected.
The order book includes €1.3bn of orders from the arranging banks, but is a striking confirmation of the ravenous appetite for eurozone periphery debt. One person close to the deal said there had been more than 550 different investor accounts placing orders.
Local media reports have Greece’s finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, hailing its return from capital markets exile this morning at a conference.
“Today we’ve returned to international borrowing markets for the first time in four years,” he said. “In a short while we will announce the results of this catalytic undertaking.”
A car bomb exploded outside one of the Bank of Greece’s offices in central Athens at dawn on Thursday. Police, who blamed leftwing or anarchist extremists, said no one was injured. The blast came a day before a planned visit to Athens by Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Appetite for the Greek issue helped to boost demand for other European government bonds, with the yield on 10-year Italian bonds down 5 basis points to 3.15 per cent and the yield on Spanish 10-year bonds down 4 basis points to 3.16 per cent.
Athens announced its return to global capital markets on Wednesday. Following the biggest debt restructuring in history and embarking on a painful austerity programme, Greece achieved a primary surplus in 2013. But there is still much structural reform ahead and with high levels of unemployment it remains the weakest link in the eurozone.
As if to underline the fragility of Greece’s recovery, the country’s labour unions embarked on a nationwide anti-austerity strike on Wednesday, forcing schools to close and bringing parts of the public transport network to a standstill. News of the debt sale was barely reported in Athens because of television blackouts.
Antonis Samaras, Greece’s prime minister, is keen to show that the country is able to borrow money independently of the troika of international lenders – the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund – ahead of May’s European elections. The bond will be governed by UK law in an attempt to attract investors who fear they could be wiped out by another debt restructuring.
Greece is taking advantage of falling borrowing costs across Europe amid growing speculation that the ECB will embark on a round of quantitative easing.
Greece’s benchmark borrowing costs on the 10-year bond hit more than 30 per cent after the country’s dramatic debt restructure in 2012, but have now fallen below 6 per cent.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan are managing the issue.
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