Business News of Fri, 21 Apr 20174

$2.25bn bond: Come again - Minority to Ministry of Finance

The Minority in Parliament has said the Ministry of Finance (MoF) must “come again” and explain to the public, the processes leading to the recent issuance of a $2.25billion domestic bond and the “conflict of interest situations arising out the transaction.”

The Minority, in an earlier press conference claimed that the bond was issued in “secrecy”, without parliamentary approval, and “cooked” to favour US-based investor Franklin Templeton, who bought 95% of it.

Following the Minority’s press conference, the Ministry of Finance issued a press statement describing the Minority’s claims as “maliciously designed to malign and negate the positive news and rave reviews this landmark transaction has garnered, both locally and internationally.”

Below is the MoF’s full statement:

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(c) The transaction should have received Parliamentary approval because it technically should be considered to be a dollar denominated sovereign bond issue due to the level of foreign investor participation and that, in the view of the Minority, it amounted to a private placement

Response

To the aforementioned claims, the Ministry responds as follows:

1. The issuance was not shrouded in secrecy nor was it “cooked” for any particular investor. The Bookrunners, (Barclays, Stanbic and SAS), on behalf of the Ministry of Finance have been mandated since 2015 to issue these domestic bonds on a regular basis as per the debt issuance calendar which Ministry of Finance (MoF) puts out every quarter. Also the book runners announce and publish every impending bond issue to the market, the week of issue and provide price guidance to the market. This particular bond issue was no different and was done in conformity with the established process. It was announced by the Book Runners to the market on March 30, via email and same published on MoF and Bank of Ghana (BoG) websites with settlement on April 3. FT was not the only participant, there were over 25 other buyers including other foreign entities, who all brought in dollars to convert to cedis to buy the bonds.

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This deal is a positive move in the current debt management strategy being pursued by government and should be applauded.

Conclusion

The Ministry hereby informs the general public to disregard these allegations as they are unfounded and malicious and seek to undermine the credibility and integrity of your Government.

(Signed)

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We are surprised that the Ministry of Finance, as an institution, is personalising the debate on the major single largest bond issuance in the history of Ghana by attacking the former Deputy Finance Minister- Hon. Cassiel Ato Forson, who is now the ranking member of the Finance Committee of Parliament for expressing the concerns of the Minority Members of Parliament, and the largest Opposition Party in Ghana - the NDC.

SHROUDED IN SECRECY:

1. Issuance calender:

We wish to state categorically that the 7-year and 15-year BOND was not on the issuance calender as claimed by the Ministry of Finance.

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5. Issuance Summary:

The issuance summary was issued on 31st March, 2017, at around 4:20pm by e-mail indicating that the BOND transaction had been closed and announcement made to the public, contrary to the statement by the Ministry of Finance that the BOND transaction was closed on 3rd April 2017.

Indeed, 3rd April, 2017, was only a SETTLEMENT DATE and NOT the CLOSING DATE of the BOND. It is for this reason that we believe that the BOND transaction was not competitive. The timing of the opening and closing announcement was too short for any competitive bidding.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST:

1. It is strange that the Ministry of Finance, in its statement to the public, failed to deny the relational interest between the Finance Minister- Hon. Ken Ofori Atta and his good friend Trevor G. Trefgarne and his association with Franklin Templeton.

2. We urge the Ministry of Finance to come again and explain to the public the processes leading to the issuance of the BOND and the conflict of interest situations arising out the transaction.

Signed:

Hon. Haruna Iddrisu (MP)

Minority Leader

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