Greece: high participation in bond swap

Pedestrians pass outside the headquarters of the National Bank of Greece in Athens, on Thursday, March 8, 2012. Greece's race to slice euro 107 billion ($140 billion) off its national debt entered the final stretch Thursday, with markets confident enough private investors will decide to accept a deal to write down the value of their Greek bond holdings. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece - Greece has secured a high enough participation in its critical bond swap offer to drastically reduce its debt, staving off an imminent default and paving the way for the release of funds from international rescue loans.

Greece said Friday that 85.8 per cent of private investors holding its Greek-law bonds had signed up to the deal, and that it aimed to use legislation forcing holdouts to participate. It extended the deadline for holders of foreign-law bonds, of whom 69 per cent have so far signed up, until March 23.

The deal aims to slash the country's national debt by €107 billion ($140 billion), with private bond holders accepting a face-value loss of 53.5 per cent, in exchange for new bonds with more favourable repayment terms.