UPDATE 1-Mechel signs $1 bln in loans with Gazprombank

Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:13am EDT

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MOSCOW, April 29 (Reuters) - Russian steel group Mechel signed several loan agreements with Gazprombank totalling $1 billion, the company said on Monday.

The New York-listed coal, iron ore and steel group, one of Russia's largest, has cut investments and put non-core assets on the market to service more than $9 billion in debt it amassed in a dash for growth before the 2008 financial crisis.

"Opening these credit lines will not increase our company's leverage while significantly decreasing the pressure on our liquidity this year," Chief Financial Officer Stanislav Ploschenko said in a statement.

Mechel hopes that the deal will enable it to improve its debt structure by extending the loan repayment periods.

Mechel has backed off from selling up to 25 percent of its mining division because of weak market conditions, sources with knowledge of the matter said last week. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Douglas Busvine)

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