LONDON, April 29 Russian gas company Gazprom is exploring ways of raising new loans and bonds from Asian investors and trying to extend an existing $500 million loan that is due to mature at the end of July, loan bankers said on Thursday.
Company officials from Gazprom and its Asian unit Gazprom Marketing & Trading Singapore Pte Ltd met banks in Singapore this week to discuss future financing opportunities as international sanctions mount against Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis.
The company is looking into the possibility of raising loans or bonds in Asia, bankers said, as as it and other Russian companies are effectively locked out of the European and US capital markets.
"The company (Gazprom) is thinking that it may be able to raise some structured financing, including deals secured by accounts receivables or trade financings," a banker said.
Other Russian companies are looking at financing alternatives in Western Europe, including bilateral loans, as the syndicated loan market remains frozen.
The United States and the European Union imposed more sanctions on Russia this week as part of their drive to put pressure on Moscow for the annexation of Crimea and direct support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Some banks with close relationships with Gazprom's Asian suppliers and clients - particularly Chinese and Middle Eastern banks - could be interested in supporting new deals, bankers said.
Several bankers said however that Asian lenders are as concerned about counterparty risk as European and US banks.
"Lenders will also be concerned about counterparty risks, so even suppliers or clients of these sanctioned companies could be affected," a second banker said.
Gazprom Marketing & Trading, Gazprom's wholly-owned UK-registered subsidiary, held a bank meeting in Singapore on Monday, to ask lenders to extend a $500 million loan before it matures on July 25.
The company, which looks after Gazprom's marketing and trading activities in Europe, signed a $500 million loan in July 2012 that was priced at 150 basis points over Libor and was extended last year.
$100 million of the loan was raised in Asia via Gazprom Marketing & Trading Singapore Pte Ltd and the remaining $400 million loan was raised in Europe via Gazprom Marketing & Trading.
Gazprom Marketing & Trading confirmed that it was in talks with banks on extending the full $500 million loan.
(Editing by Tessa Walsh)