October 31, 2017 / 12:35 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Greece to tap bond markets soon in debt-management exercise

(Adds Greek finance minister)

ATHENS, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Greece is very likely to revisit bond markets soon, in a foray aimed at improving the management of its debt, the government’s spokesman said on Tuesday.

Greece returned to bond markets with a five-year bond in July, its first market foray since 2014. It is now eyeing swapping 20 small bond issues for four or five new bonds this month, government officials have told Reuters.

“It is very possible that there will soon be a market foray which will concern the management of debt,” Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told reporters, without giving a specific date.

In an interview with state TV late on Tuesday, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said he expected investors to “demand (Greece’s) return” to the bond markets after Athens and inspectors from the EU and IMF complete the latest review of its bailout.

“There will be big demand. Until then we can take steps towards making our bonds more attractive,” he said.

Greece is still struggling to emerge from its debt crisis, despite three international bailouts. Its current 86 billion- euro aid programme expires in August 2018.

Athens aims to test demand among bond investors several times before then, seeking to regain full market access.

“A series of forays are necessary to prepare the ground and have a debt profile in August 2018, which will allow our full access to debt markets,” Tzanakopoulos said.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose term ends a year later, has promised to end Greece’s tight supervision by its lenders next year.

Tzanakopoulos said the review, which began this month, was expected to be wrapped up in time for talks to begin on the terms of a bailout exit.

The inspectors will return to Athens at the end of November, aiming to conclude the so-called third review by January, sources close to the negotiations have said. (Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas, Angeliki Koutantou, Karolina Tagaris; Writing by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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