RLPC-Rosneft says starts to repay TNK-BP loans

LONDON Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:19am EST

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LONDON Dec 17 (Reuters) - Russian oil giant Rosneft said on Tuesday that it has started the early repayment of billions of dollars of loans obtained from a group of international banks to finance its acquisition of TNK-BP in March.

Bankers expected Rosneft to use cash reserves to repay around $5 billion of a $12.7 billion bridge loan when it matures on December 21, bankers said.

Rosneft said that the early repayment of some of the loans was possible due to the company's responsible financial policy and significant generation of liquidity which allows the company to meet its business plan goals.

"Early repayment of the loan once again proves the efficiency of Rosneft's business model ... we should note our efficient partnership with the international banking community and our responsible attitude to the commitments we accepted," said Rosneft's president, Igor Sechin.

The maturing bridge loan is part of a $30.1 billion financing package that backed the TNK-BP acquisition.

Rosneft originally planned to refinance a $12.7 billion bridge loan and a subsequent $11.9 billion bridge loan with bond issues, but decided to leave the bridge loans outstanding after bond rates rose in May.

This left some banks overexposed to Rosneft. Some lenders are now considering whether to take the repayment to cut exposure or whether to roll the exposure into a new $5 billion prepayment loan which is currently being raised by BP Plc to finance its purchase of crude oil from Rosneft.

Rosneft is due to receive a $1.5 billion chunk of the $5 billion prepayment loan before Christmas from arranging banks Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Bank of China and Lloyds. This will be followed by a $3.5 billion tranche in the New Year.

"The question for many banks is still whether this is BP exposure or Rosneft exposure. We as a bank have not yet decided," said a second banker. (Editing by Tessa Walsh)

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