By Benet Koleka
TIRANA, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Albania is planning to issue a Eurobond of up to 600 million euros ($663.54 million) in May rather than November as originally planned, Finance Minister Anila Denaj said on Tuesday.
The country had budgeted to borrow 500 million euros around November 2020 before it was hit by a quake late last year that killed 51 people and left around 17,000 people homeless.
Denaj said they had brought the process forward and would decide in April whether to borrow more to cover rebuilding needs.
"In this way, we could find room in the budget to use it either in the reconstruction or other planned investments," she told Reuters.
Less than half of the bond will pay back debt.
"We might raise the (Eurobond) ceiling a bit, from 500 mln to 600 mln, or 580 mln or 590 mln, depending on the need at the moment we enter the market," Denaj added.
An international donors' conference called by the European Union will be held in Brussels on Feb 17 to help former communist Albania, an aspiring EU member, fund the rebuilding. Government officials estimate it will cost one billion euros.
Denaj said they would select a legal adviser and lead bank manager for the bond in the coming days, adding that Standard&Poor's assessed Albania's credit rating a B+ with a stable outlook last week. ($1 = 0.9042 euros) (Reporting by Benet Koleka; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
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