Greek Politicians Said to Reach Deal

Agreement on austerity measures clears way for second rescue package.

Greek political leaders are set to announce agreement on a package of austerity measures, clearing the way for a deal to cut the nation’s debt and win its second rescue in two years.

An announcement from Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’s office is expected shortly, a government official who declined to be identified said today by telephone.

The accord comes less than four hours before euro-region finance ministers hold an emergency meeting in Brussels to discuss the 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) lifeline and the swap that will impose a loss of about 70 percent for investors.

“Some key pieces are falling into place,” Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London, said in an e-mailed note. “Barring any last minute hitch, Europe may soon have defused the Greek issue for a while.”

A Greek deal would reinforce the reduction of contagion risks as investors discriminate between “small countries with serious problems (Greece, Portugal) and much bigger countries with smaller problems (Italy, Spain),” Schmieding said.

Talks over austerity measure between Papademos, who is the interim prime minister, and the so-called troika -- the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund -- had stalled over 300 million euros of pension cuts.

Creditors are meeting in Paris today over a deal in which they would accept an average coupon of as low as 3.6 percent on new 30-year bonds in the exchange. The aim of the transaction is to reduce the country’s debt burden to 120 percent of gross domestic product by 2020 from 160 percent last year.

A formal offer for the debt swap must be made by Feb. 13 to allow all procedures to be completed before the March 20 bond comes due. Parliament may be called to vote on the terms of the writedown on Feb. 12, state-runs Athens News Agency reported yesterday, without saying how it got the information.

Bloomberg News


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