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Banks and other bondholders are resisting bigger losses on bail-out

Lobbying countries such as Germany and the Netherlands against move

Financial Times  — 

Greece’s private creditors have reacted angrily to suggestions that some eurozone countries want bondholders to suffer bigger losses than those agreed in the second bail-out of Athens.

Banks and other bondholders are resisting the idea by lobbying countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, where hardliners are pushing for private creditors to write down more than the current 21 per cent agreed in July’s €109bn Greek rescue, according to people close to the deal.

Reopening the deal would be “counter-productive”, said Charles Dallara, managing director of the International Institute of Finance, which has been co-ordinating the response of banks and insurers with large holdings of Greek bonds. “Everybody needs to stay focused and not be distracted.”

The backlash from bondholders came as Angela Merkel, German chancellor, warned Greece that its second bail-out might have to be reconsidered if deficit reduction targets were missed.

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Talking about the so-called troika of officials from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank who are due to restart talks with the Greek government on Thursday, Ms Merkel said: “We must now wait to see what the troika finds out and tells us: do we need to renegotiate or don’t we need to renegotiate?”

The push from some countries to reopen negotiations about bondholder losses has split the eurozone with France and the European Central Bank leading the opposition.

They fear that imposing heavier losses, or haircuts, could lead to fresh selling of eurozone bank shares and lead markets to focus more acutely on Italy, the eurozone’s largest bond market and third-biggest economy.

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A German banker said: “If you increase the haircut, you don’t get much benefit. It would be pure political whim. You are not going to achieve anything other than contagion.”

Deutsche Bank officials reiterated weekend comments from their chief executive, Josef Ackermann, that it was “not feasible to reopen the agreement”. He added: “If we start reopening this Pandora’s box, I think we would lose a lot of time, and I am not sure people would be willing to participate.”

The reaction from bondholders came as José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, proposed streamlining the eurozone’s €440bn rescue fund by suggesting unanimous voting requirements that govern its use be eliminated.

Additional reporting by Quentin Peel in Berlin and Joshua Chaffin in Strasbourg