October 17, 2018 / 2:10 PM / 2 years ago

Nigerian Senate backs Eurobond issue, warns of debt overhang

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s upper house of parliament approved a planned $2.786 billion Eurobond issue on Wednesday but advised the government to limit foreign borrowing and instead boost revenues.

Nigeria, which emerged from recession last year, approved a three-year plan in 2016 to borrow more from abroad. It wants 40 percent of its loans to come from offshore to lower borrowing costs and help to fund its record-high budgets.

Lawmakers said the new bond issue will raise foreign borrowing to 32 percent of Nigeria’s total debt from 30 percent at June 2018.

On Wednesday, the government also approved Citigroup, Standard Chartered Bank and local firm FSDH Merchant Bank as financial advisers on the planned bond issue, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed told reporters.

The Senate said it approved the issuance but warned against accumulating too much foreign debt. “The federal government should do everything possible to reduce or limit its request for more external borrowing and (seek) other means of generating revenue internally,” it said. “This is to avoid a cleverly managed re-conquest of our country through a debt overhang.”

President Muhammadu Buhari, who will seek a second term in a presidential election to be held in February, signed a record 9.12 trillion-naira budget for 2018 into law in June as part of an attempt to foster economic growth.

Lawmakers also approved debt issuance of $82.54 million to refinance the balance of a $500 million matured Eurobond.

Nigerian government officials have met fund managers on a non-deal roadshow in New York held to update bondholders on the country’s growth plan following the recession, an investor presentation seen by Reuters showed.

Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha, editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Larry King and David Stamp

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