Nigeria Considers Raising Chinese Panda Bond To Plug $11.6B Budget Deficit

Nigeria Considers Raising Chinese Panda Bond To Plug $11.6B Budget Deficit

Nigeria is considering raising a Chinese panda bond to help seal an $11.6 billion deficit in its 2016 budget, the country’s Finance Minister told Reuters and Financial Times on Saturday.

Kemi Adeosun said the Africa’s leading oil producing nation needed to jumpstart its economy after it suffered from a slump in global oil prices over the last 16 months.

“The opportunity now, with the renminbi being a reserve currency, we are looking obviously at the lowest cost of funds to fund our budget deficit. Initially we were looking simply at the Eurobond but then we began to explore opportunities in the renminbi market so there is a possibility of issuing a panda bond,” Adeosun told the Financial Times and Reuters in an interview on Saturday.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who is set to visit China next week, proposed a 6.06 Trillion naira budget last month that was approved by parliament after some political wrangling, Vanguard reported.

China has stepped up efforts to encourage African countries to borrow using the renminbi-based bonds as the Asian giant seeks to open its domestic market amidst an economic slowdown.

Last year, China proposed new rules that allowed more foreign issuers to tap its vast bond market as well as giving domestic investors a chance to diversify away from its volatile stock market.

The yuan-denominated bonds were launched in 2005, but only a handful of foreign governments and companies had tapped them due to tough qualifying rules.

Adeosun did not say exactly how much the West African government was seeking to raise through these panda bond.

“We were looking, originally, at doing about a billion dollars on the Eurobond market so may split that between the renminbi and the Eurobond,” she said in the Reuters interview.

She later told a news conference that Nigeria was also considering selling Japanese Samurai Bonds, Reuters reported.

The country have also been in talks with the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) for a $3.5 billion loan to also help plug the budget deficit.