FILE PHOTO: Duomo’s cathedral and Porta Nuova’s financial district are seen in Milan, Italy, May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
By Sara Rossi
MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Treasury is working on a new bond dedicated to small savers in an effort to increase retail investors’ holdings of the country’s huge debt pile, a source close to the matter said on Friday.
Rome is trying to find new bond buyers for its over 2.760 trillion euro ($2.92 trillion) debt – proportionally the second highest in the euro zone – as the European Central Bank started offloading sovereign debt from its portfolio earlier this month.
“The new instrument will be a BTP bond, without any link to inflation, and it will foresee a loyalty premium,” the source said, adding that it will probably be unveiled before the summer depending on market conditions.
The Treasury already offers two bonds conceived for retail investors – BTP Italia, which is linked to inflation, and BTP Futura, linked to gross domestic product growth.
Last month Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said she wanted reduce the country’s dependence on foreign creditors by increasing the number of Italians that hold the public debt.
This week Italy raised almost 10 billion euros of its latest BTP Italia bond, created for ordinary Italians at the height of the 2012 euro zone debt crisis.
The issue took place earlier than the traditional April-May period chosen over last decade.
Three similar BTP Italia bonds mature in April, May, and November for a total of nearly 25 billion euros, an aspect the Treasury will probably take into account while considering the debut date of the new instrument, the source added.
The Treasury declined to comment.
However, in December it said it might introduce new debt instruments targeted at retail investors in the course of 2023.
Retail investors hold around 8% of Italian debt, compared with 2.9% in France, 1.6% in Germany, and less than 1% in Spain, according to ECB data.
The coupon for the new bond has yet to be decided, the source said, and will depend on the maturity the Treasury chooses.
Among the possibilities being considered is the step-up coupon mechanism conceived for BTP Futura bond, which was first issued during the COVID-19 pandemic, the source added.
The new bond will be offered on the Milan bourse’s MOT exchange platform.
($1 = 0.9446 euros)
(editing by Gavin Jones)