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Greece Extends Bond Buyback Deadline For A Day

The hugely unpopular cutbacks contributed to a recession that has wiped a fifth off the country's output since 2008, while unemployment is at 26 percent â¿¿ the worst in decades.

Greece is hoping on Thursday to receive a ⿬34 billion rescue loan installment, after a six-month delay caused by two national elections and long-dragging negotiations with the EU, IMF and European Central Bank over further demanded cutbacks. Although Athens has now adopted the spending, welfare and income cuts ⿿ coupled with new tax hikes ⿿ to get the money it still has to tie up the debt buyback over the next few days and table new tax laws on Tuesday.

EU Commission spokesman Simon O' Connor insisted Monday that success of the bond deal is "an integral part" of last month's agreement to trim the Greek debt â¿¿ which is set to reach 190 percent of GDP next year â¿¿ and unfreeze the bailout cash.

"We are confident that there is still scope for additional tenders by domestic and international investors," he said.

Greece's biggest banks have said they will participate in the buyback, without specifying to what degree. Domestic lenders have already been clobbered earlier this year by Greece's write-off on bonds held by private sector investors, but need the buyback to succeed as most of the forthcoming bailout funds are earmarked for their recapitalization.

The Greek banks hold about a quarter of all the eligible bonds, which have a total face value of ⿬63 billion. International hedge funds own an estimated ⿬15 billion to ⿬25 billion.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was upbeat Sunday on the deal's prospects.

"I am convinced that by Monday or Tuesday, one will be able to say with relative certainty that things have gone very well," he said.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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