Eurobonds account for a fifth of Nigeria’s $66.6 bn in foreign debt

Eurobonds made up more than a fifth of Nigeria’s $66.63 billion foreign debt portfolio as of September and more than half of interest paid in the third quarter, the Debt Management Office (DMO) said on Wednesday.

Foreign debt stood at $59.82 billion a year earlier.

Africa’s biggest economy is planning a roadshow to London and United States from Thursday to market up to $2.5 billion of Eurobonds to investors after parliament approved the issue on Tuesday.

It aims to issue the bonds by mid-November, the DMO has said, adding that it also wants to refinance $3 billion of domestic treasury bills with dollar loans.

Nigeria has faced a budget shortfall arising from a drop in government revenue because of low oil prices. The crude oil rout triggered chronic dollar scarcity and Nigeria’s first recession in more than a decade last year. The economy recovered in the second quarter.

Total domestic debt stood at 20.37 trillion naira ($67 billion) by September, compared with 16.88 trillion naira last year, the DMO said.

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The country wants to switch its borrowing mix so that foreign loans account for up to 40 percent of its total debt portfolio by 2019, from about 23 percent, to lower its funding costs and lengthen the repayment period.

Multilateral loans, including financing from the World Bank, accounted for 64.5 percent of foreign loans while bilateral loans with China and other countries make up 14 percent.

The DMO said Eurobonds and Diaspora bonds accounted for 21.5 percent of total offshore borrowing and 53 percent of debt service payments in the third quarter.

The International Monetary Fund has voiced concerns about rising debt risk, but the government has said its strategy would reduce Nigeria’s debt burden, boost foreign reserves and create savings in debt costs.

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President Muhammadu Buhari this month presented to parliament a record 8.61 trillion naira budget for 2018 and said the government would borrow abroad to cover half of its deficit for next year.