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Philippines raises $866M from maiden retail dollar bond offer

US dollar bills are seen in this photo illustration taken on Nov. 16, 2014. — REUTERS/MARCELO DEL POZO/FILE PHOTO

THE GOVERNMENT on Wednesday raised an initial $866.2 million from its maiden offering of retail dollar bonds (RDBs) targeted at individual investors.

The Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) awarded $551.8 million worth of five-year RDBs and another $314.4 million via the 10-year dollar-denominated notes during the price-setting auction on Wednesday.

The two-tranche offer attracted tenders of $607.8 million for the five-year bonds and $330.4 million for the 10-year bonds, exceeding the initial offer of $200 million for each tenor.

The five-year bonds, which mature in October 2026, had a coupon rate of 1.375%.

On the other hand, the 10-year bonds due in October 2031 fetched a 2.25% coupon rate.

The offer period runs until Oct. 1, unless shortened by the BTr. The RDBs are available at a minimum investment of $300 (P15,000), with increments of $100 thereafter. 

The launch follows a series of recent promotional events aimed at Filipinos overseas, who remit home more than $2 billion in income every month.

Central bank Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said the issuance of dollar bonds will help promote bond market activity and boost foreign exchange inflows.

“Rest assured that there will be no impact on the US dollar-Philippine peso exchange rate if an investor withdraws from his foreign currency deposit account,” he said in a recorded message aired during launching ceremonies.

Following the auction, National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon told reporters the BTr was “happy” with the results of the maiden offering, with rates reflecting the performance of Republic of the Philippines (RoP) tenors, strong market liquidity, and the lingering concerns of the market over the timing of the US Federal Reserve in dialing back on its accommodative monetary policy.

She said the government is hoping the strong demand for RDBs will continue for the rest of its two-week offer period, especially from domestic small investors.

“[We] need two weeks since [there is a] need to throw the net far and wide to catch more,” Ms. De Leon said.

A bond trader said the rates fetched for the two bonds were attractive as they were higher than the prevailing market rates for dollar-denominated debt.

“If we compare the five-year ROP due 2026, that bond has an indicative offer of 1.086%, so that’s about 30 bps (basis points) lower than this new 5-year RTB. While when we look at the 10-year (due 2031), that bond’s indicative offer is at 1.82%, lower by 43 bps compared to the RDB 10-year with a coupon of 2.25%,” the trader said via Viber.

“We expect good follow-through demand during the offer period especially at a time where dollar deposit rates are close to zero,” the trader added.

The bonds will be settled on Oct. 8 and will be listed and traded on the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp.

These can be purchased through various online platforms such as the BTr’s online ordering facility, Bonds.PH mobile app, and the Overseas Filipino Bank mobile app.

The state-run Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and Development Bank of the Philippines served as the joint lead issue managers for the issuance, along with BDO Capital & Investment Corp., BPI Capital Corp., China Bank Capital Corp., First Metro Investment Corp., RCBC Capital Corp., SB Capital Investment Corp., Standard Chartered Bank and UnionBank of the Philippines.

“We are inviting the investing public to support the BTr’s RDB offering to expand their portfolio and contribute directly to the government’s recovery and development agenda. Through LANDBANK’s online investment channels, individual investors worldwide can invest safely and conveniently in these bonds that offer relatively higher returns,” LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo said in a statement on Wednesday.

The government aims to raise P3 trillion this year from local and foreign sources to plug its budget deficit seen to hit 9.3% of overall economic output. — Beatrice M. Laforga and Reuters

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