Greece gets loan extension as Italian yields surge higher

GREECE will have until 2021 to repay its €110bn (£92.7bn) EU/IMF bailout loan, the country’s finance minister said yesterday.

In return, Greece will have to pay a higher fixed interest rate of about 5.8 per cent from 5.5 per cent, George Papaconstantinou said.

“The repayment, which was now until 2015, will go to 2021 ... we have a grace period of four years and a repayment period of seven years,” Papaconstantinou said. “The decision is very important, it opens the way to return to markets earlier than expected.”

An informal deal to extend the repayment was reached at a meeting of finance ministers on Ireland on Sunday.

The extension came as Greece was forced to step in yesterday to end a week-long maritime strike, which left ships and passengers stranded at ports and disrupting supplies of food and medicine.

Meanwhile, Italy moved closer to the firing line yesterday after a disappointing bond auction forced it to offer bond yields of 4.61 per cent.

The Italian government raised €6.8bn on debt securities due to mature in 2013, 2017 and 2021.

The yields were significantly higher than at a previous auction. The 10-year securities at one point jumped as high as 21 points to 4.61 per cent.