Foreign investors shunning fund to save euro

Updated: 2012-01-10 08:11

(China Daily)

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BERLIN - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Monday that a bailout fund set up for debt-wracked eurozone countries was struggling to attract foreign investors, who were demanding higher guarantees.

"Difficulties have increased in finding private investors because they are demanding bigger guarantees," he told the German radio station SWR2.

"This does not mean that the fund does not have any money. It sold a bond with success last week," added Schaeuble.

"But it does show the uncertainty that investors around the world are feeling when it comes to the eurozone," he said.

Schaeuble was confirming concerns reported to be expressed by the fund's chief, Klaus Regling, who said he was mulling taking the guarantees against default offered to foreign investors and raising them to 30 percent from 20 percent.

According to the Bild am Sonntag weekly, Regling told a meeting of German parliamentarians that the current 20-percent guarantees offered were "too low" to cover investors' risk.

A temporary fund, the 440-billion-euro ($560 billion) EFSF uses guarantees issued by eurozone governments to raise financing on money markets, which are then lent to debt-wracked eurozone countries such as Ireland, Portugal and Greece.

However, increasing the guarantees offered to investors would reduce the firepower of the fund, already considered far too small to intervene if the debt crisis were to claim a larger victim such as Italy.

European governments had hoped the fund would enjoy broad support in cash-rich countries such as China, but enthusiasm has thus far been muted.

Nevertheless, last week the fund reported strong demand for its first funding auction of the year, during which it raised three billion euros in three-year bonds.