ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece is planning to launch on Friday a public offer for a massive bond swap designed to knock euro107 billion ($142 billion) off its debt held by banks and other private investors.
The formal announcement, expected later in the day, follows a Cabinet meeting which discussed implementation of the debt-crippled country's new austerity program.
"We have made a titanic effort — and I believe titanic is the right word — to complete prior actions required for approval of financial support for the country and the process of the private sector involvement which will be officially launched today," Prime Minister Lucas Papademos told ministers.
On Thursday, Parliament approved an emergency law on the debt writedown, decided by the 17-member eurozone this week together with a new euro130 billion ($173 billion) Greek bailout.
Without either deal, the country would default on its debts next month and would likely be forced to abandon the euro currency.
Greece has been surviving since May 2010 on a first batch of international rescue loans worth a total euro110 billion ($146 billion).
Papademos promised to push through emergency legislation needed for the new austerity measures by Feb. 29, in time for a European Union leaders' summit the following day.
Greek unions have joined a Europe-wide protest campaign against economic austerity on Feb. 29, planning a three-hour work stoppage and match to Parliament.
Estonia became the latest eurozone country to endorse the new rescue deal for Greece, its lawmakers voting 56-32 in favor of the additional funding.
The German Parliament's lower house votes on the package Monday.
- Lucas Papademos