Greece is holding its breath, worried whether enough private investors will participate in a crucial debt swap deal by a Thursday deadline to pave the way for the release of a new $171-billion bailout and avoid bankruptcy.
With less than 12 hours before the deadline (2000 GMT) for acceptance, banks, insurance companies and investment funds which own around half of Greece's privately held debt had already committed to the bond swap. Under the deal, they will swap their bonds for new ones with a face value reduced by 53.5 percent.
European and Greek officials have warned investors to accept the initial losses, in order to avoid facing even bigger ones in the event of a Greek default.
The Institute of International Finance, which headed the negotiations on behalf of private creditors on Wednesday said firms holding 84 billion euros of Greek bonds have already agreed to the deal.
The 32 institutions that have accepted so far include all major Greek and Cypriot banks, as well some of Europe's biggest banks, such as France's BNP Paribas, Germany's Deutsche Bank, Italy's Unicredit, Britain's HSBC, the Netherlands' ING and Spain's BBVA, as well as insurance giants like Allianz and Generali.
Under Greek law, Athens requires 66.7 per cent of investors, owning 177 billion euros worth of bonds, to take part in the swap.
If that limited, required percentage of bondholders do volunteer to take part in the deal, then Greece can enforce collective actions clauses to force the holdouts to take part.
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