Italy received more than 55 billion euros of demand for a new 30-year bond on Wednesday, according to a lead manager memo seen by Reuters, launching the euro zone's first major debt sale of the year weeks ahead of a potentially disruptive presidential election.
The new bond, which will raise 7 billion euros and matures on Sept. 1, 2052, will price on Wednesday. It will offer a spread of 6 basis points (bps) over Italy's outstanding bond due September 2051, earlier memos said, tighter than around 8 bps when the sale started.
Italy launched the bond just weeks before its parliament will convene on Jan. 24 to elect a new president.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi has signalled he would be willing to become head of state, and investors are trying to assess what his potential departure to the generally less powerful presidency - which could trigger an early parliamentary election - might mean for Italian debt.
The political uncertainty only adds to market jitters following the European Central Bank's decision to end is pandemic emergency bond purchase programme in March, Italy being a key beneficiary.
The arrival of former European Central Bank head Draghi as prime minister last February boosted confidence in Italy's debt-ridden economy and bonds.
The closely-watched risk premium that Italy pays for 10-year debt above what Germany pays narrowed to as low as 87 bps last February, when Draghi was first set to become prime minister, levels last seen in 2015.
But on Wednesday, the risk premium widened to 135 basis points, nearing a one-year high, while benchmark 10-year yields have risen nearly 25 bps since the start of December.
"They probably used (the uncertainty) as a little bit of an excuse to sell at the long-end," said Jens Peter Sorensen, chief analyst at Danske Bank.
Demand for the deal is much lower than the 90 billion euros Italy attracted for its last euro-denominated, nominal 30-year bond syndication in October 2020, which had raised 8 billion euros.
Sorensen at Danske Bank said lower demand was likely a combination of both uncertainty around Draghi and lower ECB purchases this year.
But the October 2020 deal was sold when the ECB's quantitative easing programme was still at "full speed", he said, "so the massive order book was a bit of an outlier. Today's order book is more normal."
The Italian Treasury on Tuesday hired Barclays, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo and JP Morgan to manage the sale.
(Reporting by Yoruk Bahceli in Amsterdam and Antonella Cinelli in Rome; Editing by Saikat Chatterjee, John Stonestreet and Alex Richardson) ((Yoruk.Bahceli@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7542 7571; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))