Russia's Mechel seeks loan to refinance debt

Mon Dec 3, 2012 11:27am EST

* Mechel seeks to refinance its multi-billion debt

* Co due to repay $2.7 bln in 2013 as of Sept. 1

MOSCOW Dec 3 (Reuters) - Debt-laden Russian mining and steel firm Mechel is in talks with banks to refinance part of its multi-billion debt, a company spokesman said on Monday.

"Mechel confirms that it is in talks with banks to refinance its current syndicated loan," a company spokesman said, without giving any details.

New York-listed Mechel, carrying net debts of $9.4 billion as of Sept. 1, put up its non-core assets for sale earlier this year in an attempt to raise around $4 billion to cut its debt leverage. It has yet to make any major sales.

Russian news agency Interfax reported earlier, quoting two sources familiar with the talks, that Mechel was seeking to attract $2.7 billion from a syndicate of up to six banks, including Russia's largest state lender Sberbank.

A spokesperson for Sberbank could not be reached for comment. Mechel's spokesman denied the reported $2.7 billion amount of possible borrowing, which coincides with the total volume of company debts falling due for repayment in 2013.

Mechel, controlled by billionaire Igor Zyuzin, like other Russian steelmakers, invested heavily to expand until the 2008 financial crisis hit steel demand and forced them to borrow to support operations.

Mechel recently won an extension on the repayment of a 13 billion rouble ($420 million) loan from December to next July, but has to pay an interest rate of 13 percent - almost double the previous amount.

The company posted a second-quarter net loss of $823 million because of sagging markets and foreign exchange losses. It made a $192 million net profit in the 2011 period.

Mechel last month halted its steel mills in Ukraine and Romania amid rising production costs and weak demand.