October 6, 2014 / 6:49 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Ethiopia plans bond market debut by early January - official

(Adds quotes from spokesman, background)

ADDIS ABABA, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Ethiopia aims to make its first foray into the international bond markets by early January, the Finance Ministry spokesman said on Monday, plans that will be closely watched by investors who have snapped up other African debt.

The government has said it was considering issuing a Eurobond and other bonds after similar moves elsewhere on the continent, including Ethiopia’s neighbour Kenya, which issued a $2 billion Eurobond in June that was heavily oversubscribed.

“We are aiming for late December to early January at the latest as the time for our debut into the international capital markets,” Finance Ministry spokesman Haji Ibsa told Reuters.

“Bonds are very much part of the plan to improve infrastructure,” he said, citing plans for railway, road and power links with neighbours such as Djibouti and Kenya.

“The ratings have been very favourable for Ethiopia and so it (issuance) will prove to be an attractive prospect,” he said, adding Finance Minister Sufian Ahmed was meeting international banks about future issues, naming Barclays, Citi and BNP Paribas.

Ethiopia, which has delivered some of the strongest growth rates in Africa in recent years, was awarded a ‘B’ rating by Fitch with a stable outlook, compared with Kenya’s ‘B+’.

Haji declined to say how much Ethiopia wanted to raise, but said it aimed for a maturity of “at least 10 years”.

Investors have hankered after investments in Ethiopia but have often been frustrated by the heavy state role, which means key industries such as banking and telecommunications are kept out of reach of foreigners.

Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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