Tunisia targets $1Bn eurobond issue in January

Tunisia plans a Eurobond issue of up to $1 billion in January, the central bank’s governor said, as the government gears up for an investment conference aimed at luring billions of dollars in aid and investment.

Market conditions will determine the size of the offering, Governor Chadli Ayari said in an interview with Bloomberg in the capital, Tunis. There “are some unknowns now, including U.S. interest rates that will definitely change in December and will affect our issuance,” Ayari said.

Tunisia’s government is trying to implement a reform program meant to cut costs, draw investors and promote private sector growth. The country has already secured a $2.88 billion International Monetary Fund loan, and is hosting an investment conference that begins Nov. 29.

The efforts have stumbled, however, as resistance builds against austerity measures such as a planned wage freeze for public sector workers. The country’s biggest union has called for a general public sector strike next month if the government doesn’t reverse course on wages.

Ayari said officials will meet with the IMF on Dec. 15 to discuss the second tranche of the loan. The Washington-based lender, the World Bank and the African Development Bank are on board with the reform plan’s content but want it carried out faster, Ayari said.

“They want it to be completed in two years and we want it in three years,” he said.