February 10, 2017 / 4:12 PM / in 6 months

France mulls 30-year bond sale in Q1 -primary dealers

LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) - France may try to sell 30-year debt in the first quarter of 2017 but upcoming presidential elections could complicate the timing, three of the country's primary dealers told Reuters on Friday.

France could potentially launch a 30-year syndication - in which borrowers appoint banks to sell bonds directly to investors - as early as this month if market conditions allow, one of the dealers said.

However, volatile trading in French government bonds prompted by a two-round presidential elections in April and May could affect the timing.

"There is clearly a need for a new 30-year bond, and the sooner they do it the better. Yields are low from a historical perspective and though there has been some volatility recently, they are still a high grade issuer and will find buyers," said one of the primary dealers.

He said a brief period of calm could be followed by a "window" for bond issuance, and the country's debt agency could move quite quickly to seize it.

Primary dealers are appointed by countries to buy bonds in auctions and distribute them to investors in the secondary market. They are usually at the front of the queue to run syndications.

A strong showing for anti-euro far-right leader Marine Le Pen ahead of the presidential vote helped send the gap between French and German bond yields to multi-year highs this week.

Since then, the yield on France's 10-year bonds has pulled back from a high of 1.16 percent and stood at 1.03 percent on Friday.

France's debt agency said in a statement last year it would examine the prospects for a syndicated issue of a 30-year bond in 2017 in close consultation with the primary dealers, depending on market conditions.

On Friday, a spokesman for France's debt agency declined to comment on timing. (Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan, editing by Nigel Stephenson)

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