| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Gabon dollar-denominated bonds slide after army says it seized power

Gabon’s dollar-denominated bonds plummeted as much as 14 cents on Wednesday after the military declared control of the west African country, according to Tradeweb data.

The 2025 maturity fell the most before regaining approximately 2 cents to trade at 80.423 cents on the dollar at 0815 GMT, down 12.488 cents on the dollar. Both of its 2031 maturities were down roughly 9 cents.

In Gabon, a group of senior military officers claimed to have taken power in the early hours of Wednesday, only minutes after the Central African country’s electoral board reported that President Ali Bongo had won a third term.

Gabon completed a $436 million “debt for nature” swap earlier this month, where it exchanged parts of the 2025 and 2031 Eurobonds for a “blue bond” maturing in 2038. That fell 2.25 cents on the dollar to 98 cents.

“The immediate risk to bondholders is that sanctions are imposed that complicate things,” said Charlie Robertson, Head of macro strategy at FIM Partners.

“Sanctions on Mali didn’t have much effect because Mali wasn’t that interconnected with the global economy. But if you sanction Gabon, does that complicate payments? I imagine it will.”

The events will hurt all bond issuance in Sub-Saharan Africa, including green and blue bonds, Robertson said.

The blue bond, which was meant to generate savings for marine conservation, has political risk insurance from the U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

The DFC and The Nature Conservancy, a U.S. environmental organisation that advised on the deal, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Bank of America, which arranged the deal, declined to comment.

  • Reuters