Financial Crisis : Greece returns to debt markets after three-year hiatus

ATHENS, July 24 (Reuters) - In its first attempt to return to the bond market in three years as its debt crisis eases, Greece on Monday invited holders of its 4.75 percent outstanding bonds maturing in 2019 to tender them for cash, along with a plan to offer new five-year paper.

Greece has been suffering from a financial crisis for nearly a decade, adopting austerity memorandums and finally crashing out of global lending markets in 2014.

Rating agency Standard & Poor's had raised the country's rating outlook to "positive" from "stable" on Friday, on the expectation that the government will receive debt relief from its creditors next year.

Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, BNP Paribas and Bank of America will manage the offering.

Greece's bond move will probably be successful, but remember it is being underpinned by remarkable conditions on world bond markets.

Earlier this month, eurozone finance ministers approved the latest 8.5 billion-euro ($9.9-billion) disbursement from its third worldwide bailout, just in time for Athens to meet major debt repayments.

And in another a sign that the country is turning a corner the economy is projected to grow by 2.1 percent this year - after no growth at all in 2016.

The IMF last week approved in principle a $1.8 billion standby loan arrangement for Greece, making a conditional commitment to help underpin the country's bailout program for the first time in two years.

This gives Athens the chance to test without major financial risks its credibility in the markets.

"Greece was caught up in an incredible economic and financial storm", Moscovici told France Inter radio ahead of a visit to Athens for talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on debt relief.

Moscovici said Tuesday that debt relief could come once Greece successfully implements promised reforms and completes its a year ago under the bailout programme, although he said a decision on what measures to undertake could be made earlier.

  • Jacqueline Ellis