Romania EU Economic Financial Affairs

European Union Finance ministers prepare for a session at the informal meeting of European Union Economic Financial Affairs in Bucharest, Romania, Friday, April 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s bailout creditors on Friday backed a payout worth more than $1 billion as part of a debt-relief package contingent on government reforms.

Mario Centeno, who heads the grouping of the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers, said after a meeting in Bucharest, Romania, that the measures were worth 970 million euros ($1.1 billion) and came mostly from the profits of Greek government bonds held by eurozone central banks.

Greece is keen to qualify for debt relief after years of recession and three successive international bailouts left its national debt at around 180% of its annual income. Even though its bailout program ended last August, Greece remains under tight supervision from creditors.

The Greek government has pushed enacted reforms such as speeding-up privatization projects and easing pressure on Greek banks from loans-gone-bad.

Centeno said the payout “sends investors a positive signal of continued ownership of the reform agenda in Greece.”

Shares on the Athens Stock Exchange were up 1.2%, with the advance led by a strong performance by the country’s four main banks. The yield on Greece’s 10-year bond also dropped further to 3.55, half the level that is widely considered unsustainable in financial markets.

The stocks rally was also helped by cautious backing by lenders for Athens’ bid to make an early repayment of its bailout loans to the International Monetary Fund.

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