UPDATE 1-Nigeria’s total debt rose to 21.7 trln naira at end of 2017, debt office says


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ABUJA, March 14 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s total national debt grew to 21.7 trillion naira ($70.92 billion) at the end of December 2017, the director-general of Nigeria’s Debt Management Office told a news briefing on Wednesday. It was 17.36 trillion naira at the end of 2016.

Nigeria’s first Eurobond will be repaid when it matures in July, said the head of the DMO, Patience Oniha. The national debt mix is about 30 percent foreign and 70 percent local after a $2.5 billion Eurobond sale in February, she said.

Earlier this month, Nigeria paid off about 130 billion naira worth of treasury bills maturing this week instead of rolling over the debt as it has done in the past.

Nigeria, with Africa’s largest economy, is trying to increase its ratio of foreign, dollar-serviced debt to local debt, in a bid to lower costs.

Eurobond sales last year boosted foreign reserves by $4.8 billion, in addition to February’s $2.5 billion gain, Oniha said.

Nigeria is also expected to save 81.66 billion naira after it refinanced $3 billion of treasury bills, she said.

Last week, Nigeria’s central bank said foreign reserves rose to $46 billion at the close of business on March 9.

Successful debt sales and higher oil prices have helped the government accrue billions of dollars in foreign reserves, although they remain far from the peak of $64 billion reached in August 2008. ($1 = 306.0000 naira) (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha, writing by Paul Carsten, editing by Larry King)


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