October 2, 2018 / 7:48 PM / a year ago

Greece wants to repay loans to lenders before maturity, finmin says

ATHENS, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Greece wants to repay loans owed to its lenders from the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund before they are due in a bid to cut its debt servicing costs, its finance minister said on Tuesday.

Greece, whose public debt amounts to 180 percent of its gross domestic product, has received loans totalling about 280 billion euros under three international bailouts since 2010.

The ECB holds about 12 billion euros worth of Greek debt with an average maturity of four years and the IMF about 10 billion euros with an average maturity of three years.

“We have plans to pay the IMF and the ECB earlier and, you know, this is a kind of restructuring because we swap expensive debt for cheap debt,” Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told Greek state television.

He said Athens, which emerged from its bailout in August, could use part of a substantial cash buffer it has built with its lenders to repay the ECB and the IMF debt.

The buffer, which totals about 24 billion euros, covers Greece’s needs for at least two years.

Shut out of bond markets in 2010 after its debt crisis erupted, Greece has been tiptoeing back and Tsakalotos said it was in a position to decide when it would issue new debt thanks to that cash buffer.

He added there was convergence with the lenders on Greece’s bid to revoke painful pension cuts mandated for next year. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas Editing by Gareth Jones)

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