Zambia was once a model in Wall Street’s rush to issue debt for the world’s poorest nations, attracting bigger orders and lower interest rates than some more-developed countries. Less than a decade later, the Southern African nation is straining to pay back more than $11 billion in loans, The Wall Street Journal reported. The world is gearing up for a battle over developing-country debt like few it has seen before.
Zambia’s newly-formed creditor group is encouraging the government to bring a planned debt overhaul under the scope of an International Monetary Fund bailout, to help put the nation’s public finances on a sound footing, Bloomberg News reported. The government in Lusaka should vet its reform plans with the Washington-based fund and unlock aid to help finance projects to support an economic recovery, according to a representative of investors holding about a third of the nation’s dollar bonds.
Holders of Zambia’s Eurobonds are squaring up for what is likely to be a complex and lengthy debt-restructuring process. A group of lenders owning about a third of the nation’s dollar bonds, and in contact with another third, have formed a committee to negotiate with the government, Bloomberg News reported. Newstate Partners LLP will advise the creditors, who didn’t disclose who they were. Lazard Ltd. is representing Zambia. Zambia is looking to overhaul as much as $11 billion in foreign debt as part of efforts to unlock emergency funding from the International Monetary Fund.
South Africa made it clear it wasn’t seeking any type of debt suspension to fight the coronavirus pandemic, with such measures likely hurting more than they would help due to the high domestic ownership of securities, BloombergQuint reported. “There are a few countries, such as Egypt and South Africa, that aren’t among those” seeking to be involved in debt standstill talks being coordinated by the Institute of International Finance, special envoy Trevor Manuel said in response to emailed questions.
A privately owned power transmission company accused the Zambian government of taking steps to expropriate its assets, as a dispute over supplies to a key mine in Africa’s second-biggest copper producer escalated, Bloomberg News reported. The feud is centered around electricity provision to Konkola Copper Mines, the Vedanta Resources Ltd. unit that the government placed under liquidation a year ago, and which has a $144 million unpaid power bill.
Zambian president Edgar Lungu’s government has hired Lazard to advise on restructuring the cash-strapped southern African nation’s $11bn foreign debts that have threatened to become Africa’s first sovereign default during the coronavirus pandemic, the Financial Times reported. The investment bank was hired on a $5m contract to advise on “liability management” of the country’s debt after a tender process, the Zambian ministry of finance said on Wednesday.
Zambia is seeking to restructure its debt after years of “over-ambition” in borrowing to plug an infrastructure deficit, Finance Minister Bwalya Ng’andu said, Bloomberg News reported. The southern African nation has stopped taking on new commercial debt and is seeking to cancel some loans that it’s contracted but not yet received, he said in an interview with the state broadcaster on Sunday.
Zambia’s request for emergency coronavirus funding from the International Monetary Fund may be scuppered because of the southern African nation’s growing debt burden, Bloomberg News reported. The Washington-based lender last year cautioned that the nation’s borrowing was on an unsustainable path. And now, even as the fund makes as much as $100 billion available to member countries, the IMF warned it won’t lend money to governments if it’s not sure it will be repaid.
Zambian inflation accelerated for a 13th straight month in April to the highest rate in almost four years as its currency continued to plummet, Bloomberg News reported. Consumer prices rose 15.7% from a year earlier, compared with 14% in March, the Zambia Statistics Agency said Thursday. That’s the highest rate since September 2016. Prices rose 2.2% in the month. The kwacha has weakened 2.5% against the dollar this month, taking its plunge for the year to 24%, the worst-performing currency in Africa.
Zambia’s only option is to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund as years of excessive borrowing coupled with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic have left it struggling to pay its debts, the main opposition leader said, Bloomberg News reported. The southern African nation’s Eurobonds have been among the world’s worst performing this year and its currency has depreciated by 23% against the dollar as the global outbreak of the virus halts supply chains, forcing down the price of copper that accounts for most of Zambia’s exports.