Finance Ministry: Egypt to issue $1.5 billion Eurobond in April

 Egypt plans to issue a $1.5 billion Eurobond in April and hopes to return regularly to international capital markets in years to come as it tries to rebuild the country's battered finances, a finance ministry official said on Monday.

The dollar-denominated issue is likely to be split, said Hanan Salem, first deputy minister for economic and financial policies at Egypt's Ministry of Finance.

"We are looking to probably divide this into two tranches … Our intention is to create a yield curve, so we might have one tranche that is ten years, and another tranche that is different, that is on the longer end," Salem said.

"This will be Egypt's re-entry to the international capital markets after a gap of four years now," Salem told Reuters in an interview during an investment conference in London.

The Arab world's most populous country has been trying to repair an economy battered by political upheaval, street protests and militant violence since 2011, when a popular uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The turmoil has shut Cairo out of international debt markets.

Egypt was looking to issue more Eurobonds over the years to come, and was also exploring Sukuk issuance, though that would require regulatory change, Salem said.

"It is always good to have a continual presence in the international market and it's good to create liquidity and our external debt indicators are very low so we have room to add to our external debt," Salem said. Cairo will inform investors of its medium-term borrowing plans before the issue, she said.

Egypt has mostly relied on the local money market to finance its deficit since being frozen out of international markets, but Hanan said feedback from investors was encouraging.

"There is a really strong appetite for Egypt," Salem said, adding she expects the country's credit rating to be upgraded soon. "We should at least be a full rating notch above where we are currently rated," she said.

In December, ratings agency Fitch upgraded Egypt's sovereign debt to a 'B' rating with a stable outlook after the government took steps to cut subsidies and raise taxes as part of a fiscal consolidation plan. Moody's changed its outlook to stable from negative in October.

Looking at economic growth, Hanan expected annual gross domestic product for the second quarter of the fiscal year 2014-2015 to come in above 5 percent.

Central bank data showed GDP stood at an annual 6.8 percent in the first quarter of the financial year, which started in July, its strongest growth since 2008.

"Overall, our expectation is 3.8 percent (for the full fiscal year 2014/2015) but that is conservative," she said, citing a strong comeback in tourism.

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