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Greek stocks surge 10% on 'creative' debt plan

Greek negotiations could roil markets: Strategist
Greek negotiations could roil markets: Strategist

Greece's new left-wing government are keeping markets and euro zone leaders on their toes, dropping calls for a debt haircut in return for growth-linked bonds – a plan some analysts said could be accepted by the country's international creditors.

On Monday, Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis unveiled plans designed to end the government's confrontation with its creditors, proposing .

The comments buoyed hopes that a debt deal could be reached and European stock markets reacted positively Tuesday, with the Athens stock exchange trading 10 percent higher by 1 p.m. GMT. The yield on 10-year Greek government bonds has also dropped sharply from 11.3 percent on Monday to 10.4 percent Tuesday.

Athens, Greece
Scott E. Barbour | Digital Vision | Getty Images

Until now, the anti-austerity Greek government and its leader Alexis Tsipras have appeared to be on something of a collision course with the country's international creditors.

But speaking to the Financial Times on Monday during his visit to London to meet the U.K. Chancellor George Oscborne, Varoufakis said the government would no longer call for a headline write-off of Greece's 315 billion euro ($357 billion) foreign debt.

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Instead it would request a "menu of debt swaps" to ease the burden, he said, including two types of new bonds.

The first type, indexed to nominal economic growth, would replace the European rescue loans, and the second, which he termed "perpetual bonds", would replace European Central Bank-owned Greek bonds, the FT reported.

Next test

The next test for the proposals could come on Wednesday when Prime Minister Tsipras meets with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels.

A spokesman for the Commission, Margaritis Schinas, said on Tuesday that while any solution on Greek debt had to pass muster with all 19 euro-area countries, Europe was willing to listen to Greece's proposals.

"We are ready to hear the Greek government's concrete plans and to have constructive discussions on the next steps," Schinas told reporters.

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Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets, Michael Hewson, said the prospect of some form of debt swap had, "soothed fears that the new Greek government was intent on provoking a confrontation with its European partners, with a view to exiting the euro."

"While the initial proposals could well run into obstacles with respect to European Union (EU) rules about monetary financing, the fact that a new approach is being tried has to be welcomed, given how much of a disaster the current bailout program has been," he said in a note Tuesday.

Hopes for deal

This is what Greece's debt proposals mean
This is what Greece's debt proposals mean

Greece is hoping to come to some agreement over its debt with the so-called troika of the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, which oversaw the country's 240-billion-euro bailout.

Although the previous government made headway on structural reforms, the austerity measures were very unpopular with the Greek public who, nine days ago, voted into power the anti-austerity Syriza party who promised to renegotiate Greece's onerous bailout terms.

Despite its short time in power, Greece's new Syriza-led government has set to work dismantling austerity measures and the country's privatization program, sending shockwaves through financial markets. The Greek stock market has seen volatile trade since the new government came to power, with banking stocks plunging over 20 percent at one point last week on fears that Greece could default on its debt and leave the euro zone.

…Too 'creative'?

Against this backdrop, Varoufakis' latest comments signal that the government could be looking for a less dramatic way to deal with its debt – currently at 175 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Although the proposals are a step in the right direction, analysts stressed that the finer details were unclear.

Paul Donovan, senior global economist at UBS, said he believed that Greece's creditors could accept some kind of debt restructuring, "though perhaps in a slightly less creative way than growth-linked bonds."

"(Greece's lenders should) extend the duration of the debt – take it up to 25 years and reduce the coupon payments and lower that annual charge. That's what we need, because that gives the Greek government time to deal with the fact that the Greek economy is 25 percent smaller than it was in 2008," Donovan told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday.

While a debt haircut was "never going to happen," Donovan noted that restructuring the debt was a compromise that countries which had opposed a write-off of Greek debt, such as Germany and Finland, might be able to accept more readily.

"Restructuring the debt just by using coupons is probably going to be more acceptable and easier to sell to the Finnish public, which is one of the key issues," he added.

"But I think there's a need here for acceptance that Greece has done a lot, and you're not reducing the amount of money they owe - you get your money back at the end of the day but you change the terms around it."

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld

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This is what Greece's debt proposals mean
This is what Greece's debt proposals mean