Greece debt swap deadline looms

A leading European Union official has urged private holders of Greek bonds to sign up to a vital debt swap deal ahead of a deadline later today. Greece needs at least 75% of bondholders to agree to take a 53.5% cut in the value of their holdings for the country to receive a second bailout.

Greece’s largest banks, most of the country’s pension funds, and more than 30 European banks and insurers, including BNP Paribas (BNP) SA, Commerzbank AG (CBK) and Assicurazioni Generali SpA (G) have agreed to the offer. The package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be worth €130bn ($171bn; £109bn).

Private investors have until 2000 GMT on Thursday to agree to the debt swap on the €206bn of Greek bonds they hold. Bondholders are also being asked to accept a lower interest rate and to give Greece more time to repay them, while Greece's finance ministry said that six of the country's largest banks would accept the deal. 

Mr Rehn said: "It is important that all investors recognise that Europe has committed the maximum funds available to this voluntary debt exchange and that full participation is necessary for the Greek program to move forward."

The offer ends at 10 p.m. Athens time today.

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