MANILA – The Philippines paid around $1.5 billion to retire U.S. dollar- and euro-denominated global bonds in a tender offer this week as it sought to lower its debt costs by issuing more local-currency bonds, the government said on Saturday.
The Philippines, one of the most prolific global bond issuers among emerging economies, will use funds held by the Bureau of the Treasury and proceeds from an offer earlier this month of 30.8 billion pesos ($750 million) worth of 10-year peso-denominated global bonds to finance the debt buyback, including interest.
About $3.8 billion worth of notes, comprised of 15 series of global bonds, were offered by investors during the 6-day tender offer that ended on Thursday.
"The exercise will also reduce interest costs for the Republic, avoid bunching up of maturities, and extend the duration profile of the Republic's outstanding debt portfolio," National Treasurer Rosalia De Leon said in a statement.
The Philippines has aggressively pursued debt management schemes, including becoming the sole issuer of local currency-denominated global bonds in Asia, to narrow its public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product.
Those moves have been commended by credit rating agencies. All three of the major credit rating firms rate Philippine sovereign debt at one notch below investment grade.
Before this month's peso global notes, the Philippines public debt to GDP stood at 42 percent, down sharply from 68 percent nearly a decade ago. Its interest payments now account for around a fifth of state spending from close to a third in 2005.
Manila is also selling $500 million in dollar bonds to the local market via a state auction on November 28 to help create dollar demand and dampen the rapid rise in the peso, currently hovering near 5-year highs to become Asia's best performing currency this year.
($1 = 41.3400 Philippine pesos)
(Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco and Karen Lema; Editing by Paul Tait)