The French government has simplified and standardised its securities to obtain optimum financing terms. This ensures a highly liquid market for its securities, enabling investors to buy and sell promptly and for a reasonable cost at any time. As a result, French and international investors have easier access to the French government securities market, providing the government with enhanced market depth. The structure of government debt has been rationalised since 2013 with issuance of only two categories of standardised Treasury securities: OATs and BTFs . These securities are issued with a face value of EUR1 and are differentiated by their maturity at issue.
Obligations assimilables du Trésor (OATs, or fungible Treasury bonds) are used for the government's medium- and long-term borrowing, with maturities ranging from two to fifty years. OATs pay a fixed coupon and are redeemed at maturity. The principal may be index-linked to inflation, as is the case for OATi and OAT€i issues. Auctions of long-term OATs are held on the first Thursday of each month. The government uses these auctions to sell OATs with maturities of 8.5 years and more. Auctions are also held on the third Thursday of each month to sell medium-term OATs, with maturities ranging from two to 8.5 years, and index-linked OATs (OATi, OAT€i issues).
Bons du Trésor à taux fixe et à intérêts précomptés (BTFs or negotiable fixed-rate discount Treasury bills) are the French government's cash management instrument. They are used to smooth out fluctuations in the government's cash position over the course of the year. These fluctuations stem primarily from lags between revenue collection and expenditure disbursement, as well as from the debt redemption schedule. BTFs have maturities of less than one year at issue. BTFs are issued at auctions held every Monday. The quarterly BTF auction schedule is published in advance and specifies the maturities issued at each auction. One 3-month BTF is issued every week, along with BTFs with maturities of 6 months or 1 year, as the case may be. Unscheduled BTFs with maturities from 4 to 7 weeks may be issued as needed for cash management purposes.