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Ghana’s local debt score raised by S&P as domestic default cured

The rating on Ghana’s local-currency debt was upgraded by S&P Global Ratings as the country settles its domestic debt exchange with bondholders. The nation’s foreign debt remains rated in default.

Ghana’s local credit score was raised to CCC+ from SD — or selective default — by S&P after new domestic debt securities were delivered to creditors, according to a Friday statement.

The credit assessor continues to score the West African nation’s foreign-currency debt at SD as the government works to restructure the external bonds, wrote analysts Frank Gill and Ravi Bhatia. 

“We understand that the authorities aim to lower debt to GDP to about 55% over a five-year horizon,” they wrote. “Discussions with holders of foreign currency instruments are continuing.”

Ghana has been engaging investors since late last year to restructure about $30 billion of its $46 billion in local and international debt. It recently completed the first part of a domestic restructuring, with investors exchanging 83 billion cedis ($6.7 billion), or 64% of holdings, for new securities, against an overall target of 80%.

It aims to start “substantive” discussions with international bondholders and their advisers in the coming weeks, Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta said Thursday.

Still, the ongoing discussion mean payments have been halted on individual bond. S&P on Friday lowered the ratings on three UK-law eurobonds — maturing in 2023, 2027 and 2025 — to D, or default. 

On Friday, a panel of dealers and investors agreed to review whether a missed payment of a coupon on one of a dollar bond due 2026 constituted a so-called credit event, which may trigger the payout of insurance protection on the debt. 

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Fitch Ratings last week cut Ghana’s local-currency credit score to default. It also downgraded its foreign-currency debt rating to partial default after it missed Eurobond payment.

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