Offshore bond feat shows confidence in Duterte

January 03, 2019
Carlos Dominguez III

Economic managers said the Philippines’ successful bond issuances in the offshore bond markets in 2018 underscored the strong confidence of the international business community in the country’s growth narrative under President Rodrigo Duterte's watch.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement on Wednesday the tight spreads of these bond issuances also illustrate confidence in the way the Duterte administration has soundly managed the country’s fiscal program.

For instance, he said, the USD2 billion 10-year global bonds issued last January received a tight spread of 37.8 basis points over the US Treasuries, while the RMB1.46 billion three-year Panda bonds floated in March fetched a spread of only 35 basis points over the benchmark.

When the Philippines returned in August to the yen-denominated Samurai bond market after an eight-year hiatus, its multi-tranche JPY154.2 billion transaction or the equivalent of USD1.39 billion, yielded a weighted average spread of 34.7 basis points above benchmark, Dominguez noted.

Dominguez said that with global uncertainties persisting as a result of the Federal Reserve’s decision to continue raising interest rates, he had instructed National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon to move the timelines of future bond issuance ahead of schedule.

The Finance chief also said that with the positive and overwhelming response to the Philippines’ Panda and Samurai bond issuances, the government is likely to return to these markets every 12 to 18 months from hereon to establish a regular presence.

“Because of all the announcements and all the uncertainties that are going to start hitting more, impacting the market more, (it’s) better to bring the issuance forward earlier,” Dominguez said.

He said participating in the Panda and Samurai bond markets, as well as exploring other debt securities markets in and outside of Asia, would help diversify the government’s borrowing portfolio as it rolls out more of its “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure projects.

“We told bankers that our policy now is not to be absent from any major market for long periods,” Dominguez said in a recent press briefing. “For the Samurai, we are going to come back within 12 to 18 months from August. In China, we will come back to the market again within 12 to 18 months from last March. And we are going to explore doing something in England.”