- The inaugural Eurobond of $2 billion taken in 2014 will now attract an extra Sh70 billion due to the weak shilling.
- Last week, the government committed to pay $300 million (Sh45.6 billion) in December as the initial installment for the inaugural Eurobond
Kenya has appointed Citi and Standard Bank as joint lead managers for a potential dollar-denominated debt in what experts view as a possible return to the Eurobond market.
In a public notice, the National Treasury said the appointment of the two followed a rigorous procurement process.
"Any transaction or transactions will be subject to market conditions,'' the notice published on Sunday reads in part.
''What do they want to arrange, a multilateral loan? Those commercial entities earn their fees for arranging commercial or syndicated loans. That is likely a Eurobond,'' Clement Wambua, a seasoned economist told the Star.
"Please, wake up, go plant trees and smell the coffee for another Eurobbond is on the way. I'm afraid it will be priced in the range of 20 per cent. This won't be good,'' Japhet Onsongo of ABC Capital said.
The National Treasury was not at hand to clarify. Both our messages and calls to the relevant office were unanswered by the time of going to press.
In June, Kenya shortlisted four international lenders as potential lead arrangers for the planned fifth Eurobond issue. They included Citigroup, JP Morgan, Standard Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.
The selection of lead arrangers kicked off in April with the exchequer having published a request for expression of interest for international lead managers for issuance of a sovereign bond on April 18.
Citigroup and JP Morgan served as joint-lead managers when Kenya raised $1.0 billion through Eurobond in June 2021, with NCBA and I&M banks playing the role of co-lead managers.
The country has been weighing options of going for the fifth Eurobond for a year now as uncertainties about clearing the inaugural worth $2 billion issued in 2014 linger.
Last week, the government committed to pay $300 million (Sh45.6 billion) in December as the initial installment for the inaugural Eurobond
Speaking on Thursday during the State of the Nation address in parliament, President William Ruto said the payment will ease the concerns caused by the debt that was issued in 2014.
“The debt has since become of much concern to the citizens, markets, and our partners,” Ruto said.
International lenders are now likely to charge Kenya much higher interest rates if it goes for the bond after several international credit rating firms downgraded the country's creditworthiness.
This was recently echoed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its latest economic outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa fears that yields on Eurobonds have more than doubled to hit past 12 per cent.
"At current yields, no Eurobond has been issued since April 2022 and some countries may struggle to roll over near-term liabilities- indeed, aggregate upcoming Eurobond repayments of about $6 billion in both 2024 and 2025 are of particular concern,'' IMF said.
Kenya has tried several strategies to generate enough resources to pay off the loan amid heavy criticism and doubts from experts who fear a default.
A month ago, Kenya’s Eurobonds plunged after Moody’s Investors Service said it might treat a planned buyback of some of the debt as a default.
According to Moody's vice president and senior credit officer, David Rogovic, redeeming the bonds at a price below par value would constitute an economic loss to investors said two months ago.
On Monday, yields on Kenya’s Eurobonds increased by an average of 30 basis points, with the 2024 maturity increasing by 40.5 basis points to hit nearly 19 per cent, having tripled.
The yields on the bond are hovering between 18.4 and 18.7 per cent this month, data published by the Central Bank of Kenya shows, reflecting the rising risk investors are placing on Kenya’s short-term debt.
The 10-year bond priced at 6.78 per cent was issued in 2014 to fund infrastructure projects under the then-Jubilee administration.
Kenya took up $2.75 billion in two tranches – a 10-year paper at a 6.78 percent interest rate and a five-year issuance at 5.87 per cent.
The five-year paper was repaid partly using the proceeds of another $2.1 billion Eurobond issued in May 2019.
The government planned to issue the bond in the past financial year but opted to shelve the plan owing to tight global financial conditions that saw the yield trend upwards and render the plan unviable from a pricing standpoint.
In May, Treasury Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo indicated the government was at an advanced stage of selecting lead arrangers for the Eurobond slated for issuance in the next financial year.
The issuance has been identified as one of the ways through which the government can settle the maturing bond which was floated a decade ago.
The repayment of the dollar-denominated loan has been met with extreme currency devaluation pressures that have seen the shilling tumble against the greenback by close to 20 per cent.
This has forced the government to revise its repayment plan upwards.
For instance, the inaugural Eurobond of $2 billion taken in 2014 will now attract an extra Sh70 billion due to the weak shilling.
The dollar was selling at an average of Sh88 by the time Kenya was raising its first-ever Eurobond debt.
Data from the National Treasury shows the country will pay Sh311.6 billion to clear the initial Eurobond in June, up from the initial Sh240 billion.
This is after Kenya revised its currency from Sh120.80 to Sh155.81 against the US dollar.