The first tranche of a MD 4,920 million ($425 million) bond issue for state railway authority Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF) closed on 24 January. Proceeds from the MD 1,700 million ($147 million) private placement comprising 11,340 15-year bonds will finance ONCF's pension payments for 20,000 employees. The bonds have a nominal value of MD 150,000 ($12,969) and carry a fixed rate of 6.95 per cent.
Morocco has a relatively small railway network, with less than 2,000 kilometres of track, which does not extend south of Marrakech. After several years of restructuring and rationalisation, ONCF has succeeded in lifting net profits to MD 76.2 million ($7 million) in 2000 from MD 10.2 million ($882,000) in 1998. Its debts in 2000 totalled around MD 1,300 million ($112 million), 13 per cent of its assets. In 2000, ONCF carried over 13 million passengers and 27 million tonnes of freight.
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