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- BREAKING NEWS -
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Government of Mongolia Offers to Exchange New Notes for Guaranteed DBM Notes
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, February 19, 2017 (Ministry of Finance) The Government of Mongolia (the "Government") is pleased to announce an exchange offer for the US$580,000,000 5.750% Senior Notes due 2017 issued by Development Bank of Mongolia LLC, which mature on March 21, 2017 (the "DBM Notes"). The exchange offer, which we expect to launch on February 20, 2017, provides existing holders of the DBM Notes the opportunity to exchange such notes for new sovereign bonds directly issued by the Government. We are confident that there will be strong participation in the exchange offer on the back of positive developments for Mongolia and against an improving outlook for commodities prices.
In addition, the Government continues to make progress with discussions involving the IMF and expects an official announcement soon with respect to an IMF-supported economic and financial aid program. We intend to engage the holders of Mongolian government and government-guaranteed debt with a view to improving medium-term financial stability.
MEDIA COVERAGE OF IMF DEAL
IMF to Loan Mongolia $440 Million as Part of $5.5 Billion Bailout Package
by Michael Kohn
- Facility will help Mongolia repay $580 million bond due March
- GDP growth slowed to 1% last year amid commodity price drops
February 19 (Bloomberg) Mongolia reached an initial agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a three-year program that includes a $440 million loan package as part of a $5.5 billion bailout to help the north Asian country with looming debt repayments.
"The Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and bilateral partners including Japan and Korea are expected to provide up to another $3 billion in budget and project support, while the People's Bank of China is expected to extend its 15 yuan billion ($2.2 billion) swap line with the Bank of Mongolia for at least another three years," the IMF said in a statement on Sunday. "The total external financing package will thus be around $5.5 billion."
Economic growth in Mongolia slowed to 1 percent last year as commodity prices fell and growth slowed in China, the main buyer of the nation's copper and coal exports. The country also saw foreign investment collapse after a dispute with Rio Tinto Pl cover the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine.
The Extended Fund Facility (EFF) will support the government's plan to address balance-of-payment pressures and also help the government repay looming debts, including the Development Bank of Mongolia's $580 million bond repayment due in March.
This marks the sixth time since 1990 that the IMF has bailed out Mongolia, the most recent a stand-by agreement in 2009-2010, according to an e-mail from IMF spokesman Keiko Utsunomiya.
The financing will support a Mongolian program, "which intends to restore economic stability and debt sustainability as well as to create the conditions for strong, sustainable and inclusive growth," according to the IMF statement. The agreement is subject to the confirmation of financing assurances, the completion of prior actions by the authorities, and the approval of the IMF Executive Board. The board is expected to consider Mongolia's request in March.
This is "great news, the market will receive this positively," Dale Choi, head of the research firm Mongolia Metals & Mining, said in an e-mail. It is the "bottom out everyone has been waiting for and the only way is up."
Ahead of the agreement, parliament amended the development bank law, making changes recommended by the IMF. The amendments were designed to depoliticize the bank and include a rule that board members can't have held political office in the past five years.
Mongolia's central bank had $1.3 billion in foreign reserves at the end of December, well below the $4.1 billion it held at the same time in 2012, when money was pouring into Mongolia's mining sector amid the commodities boom. The tugrik fell 20 percent last year, fifth-worst among exotic currencies tracked by Bloomberg.
"While many Mongolian businesses may feel the short-term pressure of a marginal increase in taxes, the successful implementation of the EFF arrangement in Mongolia will stabilize the domestic currency and boost confidence in the banking sector," Bilguun Ankhbayar, Chief Executive Officer of the Mongolian Investment Banking Group, said by e-mail. "This will likely result in increased activity in those economic sectors that have the most competitive advantage."
Foreign exchange reserves should rise to $3.8 billion by the end of the program, according to the IMF statement. By 2019, economic growth is projected to pick up to around 8 percent.
"Fiscal consolidation will leave room for the banking sector, over time, to extend more credit to the private sector, consistent with projected growth. These policies would also put public debt on a declining path over the course of the program," the IMF said.
The country's budget deficit at the end of 2016 tripled to 3.67 trillion tugrik ($1.5 billion), compared to a year earlier, while total external trade dropped 2.3 percent and non-performing loans in the banking system rose 25 percent.
"Attempts to stem the decline through expansionary policies proved ineffective after a few years, and the economy is now stagnating, weighed down by high debt and low foreign-exchange reserves," according to the IMF.
Mongolia agrees $5.5 billion economic bailout plan with IMF, others
By Terrence Edwards | ULAANBAATAR
February 19 (Reuters) Mongolia has agreed with the International Monetary Fund and other partners for a $5.5 billion economic stabilization package, according to a statement from the IMF on Sunday.
The landlocked nation saw its economy grow at a double-digit annual rate over 2011-2013 as foreign investors rushed in to take advantage of its vast untapped mineral deposits, but it has been hit hard by an economic crisis since 2016 due to government overspending and declining revenues from commodity exports.
To bailout the country - which is now scrambling to avoid missing a $580 million sovereign-guaranteed debt repayment due in March - the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and bilateral partners, including Japan and South Korea, will provide up to $3 billion in aid, the IMF said in its statement.
People's Bank of China will expand a swap line worth 15 billion yuan ($2.19 billion), while the IMF will offer three-year loans worth about $440 million, the latter added.
The bailout plan is pending formal approvals from the IMF board in March, according to the statement.
"Fiscal consolidation is a key priority, as loose fiscal policy in the past was a major driver for Mongolia's current economic difficulties and high debt," said Koshy Mathai, IMF's team leader for the package.
Paving the way for the bailout was a move by the country's lawmakers earlier this month to allow the Development Bank of Mongolia, which issued the $580 million debt that is up for repayment, to act independently of the government.
Under the bailout plan, Mongolia has pledged to implement fiscal reforms for greater budget discipline, maintain a flexible exchange rate and build a stronger regulatory environment for banking and finance.
The president of the Bank of Mongolia, Nadmid Bayartsaikhan, said the central bank would no longer bankroll fiscal policy programs, including a mortgage subsidy one that will now be self-sustaining rather than dependent on additional financing from the central bank.
Bayartsaikhan added that an independent study of the banking sector would be launched to identify weaknesses at institutions and the need for new regulations.
The Mongolian economy grew at 1 percent last year, its slowest pace in seven years, and may slip into recession when austerity measures imposed on the country for a debt bailout are rolled out.
However, the bailout terms will not affect Mongolia's social spending. It plans to subsidize some drug costs and a universal allowance for children will be given to those in need, Finance Minister Battogtokh Choijilsuren told reporters on Sunday.
With these structural changes in place, Mathai of the IMF said Mongolia could look forward to sustainable growth built upon its lucrative mining sector, as well as its growing industries in agriculture and tourism.
"I think we're looking at a pretty good outlook for Mongolia," said Mathai.
Mongolia reaches $5.5bn IMF deal as debt repayments loom
Deal a relief for mining-dependent country but still needs final approvals
February 19 (Financial Times) Mongolia has reached a $5.5bn bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund just weeks before the country's development bank faced repayments on a $580m bond.
The IMF will provide Mongolia funds totalling $440m, with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan and South Korea offering $3bn in preferential loans.
The mining-dependent country has been buffeted by the steep slump in coal, copper and other commodity prices over the past five years. It is now anticipating a recovery in the commodities cycle and new investment in giant mines in the Gobi desert.
Mongolia is in separate negotiations with the Chinese government over a three-year extension of an Rmb15bn ($2.2bn) central bank swap agreement, which has been its largest single source of foreign financing. N. Bayartsaikhan, governor of the Bank of Mongolia, told reporters that China has "agreed in principal" to extend the swap.
Mongolia has sought support from the US, Japan and Europe as part of its "third neighbour" policy to avoid domination by China and Russia.
In November, a Chinese border town raised transit fees on trucks, forcing Rio Tinto to suspend shipments from the massive Oyu Tolgoi mine.
"[Mongolia's] long-run future is promising," the IMF said in a statement. "But in recent years it has been hit hard by the sharp decline of commodity prices and a collapse in foreign direct investment."
The fund projected that economic growth will recover to 8 per cent by 2019 as foreign exchange reserves reach $3.5bn — a level not seen since 2012.
The Bank of Mongolia shocked international markets in August by raising interest rates 450 basis points to 15 per cent. Mongolia's currency, the tughrik, has fallen almost 30 per cent against the dollar since June.
Final approval of the IMF-led package is conditional on Mongolia's parliament approving fiscal discipline measures, including the repeal of a politically popular cash subsidy for all families with children.
"Fiscal consolidation is a key priority as loose fiscal policy was a major driver of Mongolia's current economic difficulties and high debt," the IMF said. It added that budget deficits would be "reduced steadily", but not at the expense of "priority" social spending.
The "staff-level agreement" is also subject to final approval by the IMF's executive board.
The IMF agreement comes a month before a $580m payment is due on a bond issued by the Development Bank of Mongolia. It is the first of several payments over the next year that together amount to about $2bn, or about one-sixth of the country's gross domestic product.
On Sunday the government said it planned to launch an exchange offer this week for the DBM bonds, swapping them for government debt. No maturity for the new bonds was given.
Extending the swap agreement with China — which Mongolia has mostly drawn down at interest rates of about 6 per cent — will allow Mongolia to defer a hefty repayment.
According to people familiar with the bailout negotiations, the ADB intends to lend Mongolia about $300m per year over the next three years in budgetary support. That will replace previous loans of a roughly equivalent amount that primarily went towards infrastructure construction and poverty alleviation programs.
IMF PRESS RELEASE
IMF Reaches Staff-Level Agreement with Mongolia on Three-Year Extended Fund Facility
End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF's Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF's Executive Board for discussion and decision.
February 19, 2017 (IMF) A staff team of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Koshy Mathai visited Ulaanbaatar during February 1-19 to continue discussions with the Mongolian authorities on a set of economic policies that could be supported by IMF financial assistance. At the end of the visit, Mr. Mathai made the following statement:
"The Mongolian government and the IMF team have reached staff-level agreement on an economic and financial program to be supported by a three-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for SDR 314.505 million (435 percent of quota), or about $440 million. Other international partners also plan to support the government's program: the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, and bilateral partners including Japan and Korea are together expected to provide up to $3 billion in budget and project support; and the People's Bank of China is expected to extend its RMB 15 billion swap line with the Bank of Mongolia for at least another three years.
"The total external financing package will thus be around $5.5 billion and will support the authorities' "Economic Stabilization Program," which intends to restore economic stability and debt sustainability as well as to create the conditions for strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth, while protecting the most vulnerable citizens.
"This agreement is subject to the confirmation of financing assurances, the completion of prior actions by the authorities, and the approval of the IMF Executive Board. The Board is expected to consider Mongolia's request in March.
"Mongolia is well endowed with mineral resources, strong potential in agriculture and tourism, and a young and dynamic population. Its long-run future is promising, but in recent years it has been hit hard by the sharp decline of commodity prices and a collapse in foreign direct investment (FDI). Attempts to stem the decline through expansionary policies proved ineffective after a few years, and the economy is now stagnating, weighed down by high debt and low foreign-exchange reserves.
"Fiscal consolidation is a key priority, as loose fiscal policy in the past was a major driver of Mongolia's current economic difficulties and high debt. Budget deficits will be reduced steadily, while priority social spending will be maintained: for instance, the savings from better targeting the Child Money Program will be used entirely to increase spending on the food stamp program for the most vulnerable. Also, to boost revenue, the personal income tax will be made more progressive, with rates on only higher-income households increased.
"The Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) will henceforth operate in an independent, purely commercial manner, as laid out in the recently passed DBM law, and the Bank of Mongolia (BOM) will not engage in additional quasifiscal activity, with the mortgage program now operating essentially as a revolving fund. In addition, the law on concession projects will be reformed, and the public investment program (PIP) will be rationalized and better aligned with national development priorities.
"The authorities will adopt a set of important fiscal reforms to ensure that budget discipline is maintained, building on the existing framework for fiscal responsibility. These include the creation of a Fiscal Council to provide independent budget forecasts and costings of new policy proposals, and provisions to give the government sole authority to determine the total amount of spending in the budget, as well as to require Ministry of Finance approval of any proposals to cabinet with a budgetary cost.
"Monetary policy will remain appropriately tight, given the objective of price stability. Over time, however, as the economy normalizes, it may be appropriate to cut the policy rate if external and inflation indicators permit. The exchange rate will continue to move flexibly, with intervention limited to smoothing excessive volatility and preventing disorderly market conditions. A major priority will be the adoption of a new BOM law to clarify its mandate, strengthen governance, and improve independence.
"Strengthening the banking system is a crucial part of the program, to ensure that the banks can support sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The authorities' first priority is to undertake a comprehensive diagnosis of the banking system to assess institutions' financial soundness and resilience. With the results of this diagnostic in hand, the BOM will engage banks to ensure appropriate restructuring and recapitalization, as necessary. The BOM will complement these actions by strengthening the regulatory and supervisory framework, and government is committed to improving the deposit insurance system. The authorities are also committed to strengthening the regime for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).
"The authorities intend directly to boost economic activity and prospects by attracting new investment to major mines, and by implementing an array of structural reforms to promote economic diversification and improve competitiveness, especially in agriculture and tourism. The broad range of reforms envisaged under the program have been developed in close collaboration with the World Bank and ADB.
"The authorities' adjustment and structural reform program, supported by the large package of external financing, is expected to stabilize the economy and lay the basis for sustainable, inclusive, long-run growth. By 2019, growth is projected to pick up to around 8 percent, as economic and financial conditions improve and key mining projects take off. Foreign exchange reserves should rise to a healthy $3.8 billion (above 6 months of imports) by the end of the program, similar to levels seen in 2012, before Mongolia was hit by external shocks. Fiscal consolidation will leave room for the banking sector, over time, to extend more credit to the private sector, consistent with projected growth. These policies would also put public debt on a declining path over the course of the program.
"The government's recently announced plan to engage with its private external creditors to secure financing assurances for the program should help restore debt sustainability. Specifically, the financing parameters of the program assume that external private creditor exposure will be maintained at its current level over the program period, on terms consistent with debt sustainability, and gross financing needs will remain at prudent levels during the post-program period.
"On behalf of the staff team, I would like to thank the authorities for their warm welcome, and the constructive discussions and excellent collaboration we have had over recent months, bringing us to today's successful conclusion."
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