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IN SHORT

S&P assigns 'A' rating to Slovakia's eurobond

THE STANDARD & Poor's ratings agency announced on March 21 it had assigned an 'A' long-term senior unsecured debt rating for Slovakia's upcoming €1 billion Eurobond issue, which matures in March 2021.

The bond will be issued under Slovakia's new €2 billion Euro Medium Term Note (EMTN) programme, which at the same time was assigned a long-term rating of 'A' and a short-term rating of 'A-1'.

"Slovakia's ratings are supported by rapid progress in public sector reform, strong growth prospects and the prospect of entry into the Eurozone by 2009. The ratings remain constrained by the country's only moderate wealth levels and inefficient social security system," said Standard & Poor's.

The agency praised the fact that public finances continue to improve despite an increase in the general government deficit in 2005 to 4.9 percent of GDP due to costs resulting from EU accession, pension reform and forgiven debts. It also said that Slovakia is making good progress toward joining the Eurozone by 2009, including the country's joining the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in November 2005. Last week, the Fitch ratings agency also assigned Slovakia's upcoming €2 billion bond issue an 'A' rating with a stable outlook.

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