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S. Korea sells US$1 bln currency stabilization bonds

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEJONG, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has successfully sold dollar-denominated currency stabilization bonds worth US$1 billion, the finance ministry said Thursday.

This comes a day after the ministry said that it launched the official process for the bond sale with the selection of its lead managers.

"We successfully sold $1 billion worth of dollar-denominated currency stabilization bonds with a 10-year maturity at 1:15 a.m. with a great amount of interest from investors in the U.S., Europe, Asia and across the world," the ministry said in an emailed press release.

The bonds carry a coupon rate of 3.875 percent, which is the lowest ever for such bond issuance, the ministry said.

"The rate is even lower than bonds issued by the Chilean government, which holds similar levels of sovereign credit ratings with those of South Korea," a ministry official said.

The sale marked the first of its kind since April 2009 when the government sold $3 billion worth of such bonds. The bonds will carry a 10-year maturity, according to the finance ministry.

Currency stabilization bonds are designed to raise money needed for the government to keep foreign exchange rates stable. Their yields often serve as a benchmark for Korean bonds being traded in international financial markets.

The ministry said that the bond issuance will help encourage the private sector to follow suit in selling debts overseas with less borrowing costs thanks to the low benchmark interest rate.

"Despite many risk factors such as a possible tapering of U.S. stimulus measures, anxiety over the financial markets in emerging Asian countries and deepening worries over Syria, (the bond sale means that) we have gotten a vote of confidence for our economy from the global financial markets," the ministry said.

The Seoul government has set a ceiling every year on the issuance of foreign currency denominated stabilization bonds.

The ceiling was raised to $6 billion in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis but was lowered to $2 billion in 2010 and then to $1 billion for 2011 and 2012. The government, however, has not issued such bonds for the past three years.

The latest bond sale is intended to pay back $1 billion worth of bonds that matured on June 1. A high-ranking finance ministry official earlier said that there will be no additional sale of such bonds for the time being.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/yonhap-news-agency/130904/s-korea-sells-us1-bln-currency-stabilization-bonds