LONDON Aug 11 Gazprombank has
repaid a $1.2 billion term loan facility that it signed with a
club of international banks in August 2011, the Russian bank
said in a statement on Monday.
Gazprombank was trying to refinance the deal in the
international syndicated loan market before EU sanctions were
announced on July 29 and the US released more sanctioned names.
The Russian loan market was on hold before the sanctions
were announced in late July and is still effectively closed,
although some European banks with Russian franchises such as ING
, UniCredit, Societe Generale and
Raiffeisen Bank International, are exploring ways to
lend to Russian companies that are not subject to sanctions.
The abrupt slowdown in Russia's syndicated loan market has
forced Russian banks to become more self-sufficient.
Gazprombank's loan repayment mirrors a similar repayment by
Russia's second-biggest bank, VTB, which was also
seeking to refinance an international loan but repaid the deal
in July, and an earlier repayment by state-owned bank VEB in
VEB cited weak investor appetite and unfavourable terms for
a new loan when it cancelled plans to refinance a $2.45 billion
bridge loan in April. VEB said that it would repay the loan with
a view to returning to the loan market later in the year when
the geopolitical situation might have changed.
Gazprombank originally approached banks in July to refinance
the existing loan, which was co-ordinated by ING, with a
one-year syndicated loan of up to $1 billion. Gazprombank's new
loan was expected to carry a margin of around 175 basis points
over LIBOR, with terms similar to VTB, which was also looking
for a similar one-year loan of $1.5-2 billion at the same time.
VTB's loan was expected to refinance an existing three-year
$3.13 billion loan, that was originally co-ordinated by ING and
SMBC and was due to mature in July. VTB's refinancing attracted
support from international banks, including US lenders, and it
was hoped that the deal would reopen the Russian loan market
after banks closed shop on Russian lending after Russia's
annexation of the Crimea in March.
However on August 1, VTB issued a statement saying that it
had repaid the syndicated loan with its own funds before the EU
issued sanctions in late July and the US released more
sanctioned names, including VTB.
(Editing by Tessa Walsh)