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Down to wire on Greek bond swap


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Down to wire on Greek bond swap

There was more anger in Athens on Wednesday as the deadline approached for Greece’s bond swap with its investors, which is a vital step in the country getting its international bailout.

Union members, including police officers, protested that their pension funds are included in the debt swap deal. That means steep losses on the government bonds they hold, potentially reducing the value of their future pensions.

A leader of the civil servants union, Ilian Vrettakos, complained: “The coalition government and the troika are implementing the most barbaric plan against the social insurance funds and those insured. Instead of leaving out pension funds from the losses, they are making more cutbacks to the funds, which means a reduction in pensions and benefits.”

Private investors hold 206 billion euros worth of government bonds. Athens has said the holders of at least three quarters of them have to agree to take part in the bond swap for it to go ahead.

After months of tortuous negotiations, over 30 major European banks and insurers, along with Greece’s largest banks and most of its pension funds, confirmed on Wednesday that they will swap their bonds for others of lower value to be paid back over a longer term. That process will wipe out almost three quarters of the value of their investments.

The rest of the investors have until Thursday evening to say whether they will take part.

Bankers and politicians said the outcome still remains uncertain.

Greece has said those who do not sign up will get nothing.

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