(Adds details on size and timing of the deal in paras 12, 13,
16 and 17)
By Kane Wu
LONDON, March 24 Commodity trader Gunvor has
reassured lenders the firm will avoid U.S. sanctions under its
new ownership structure as it presses ahead with plans to raise
what bankers said would be a$665 million syndicated loan.
Gunvor told lenders in a conference call on Friday that U.S.
sanctions against one of its founders, businessman Gennady
Timchenko, will not affect its finances or debt, because he no
longer owns any shares in the company.
Timchenko, one of Russia's businessmen most loyal to
President Vladimir Putin, sold his 43 percent stake in Gunvor to
Chief Executive Torbjorn Tornqvist on March 19. The sale was
announced hours after U.S. sanctions were imposed.
Tornqvist now owns 87 percent and holds 100 percent of the
voting rights, while employees own the remaining, non-voting
shares, according to a company statement last Thursday.
Gunvor said its connection to Timchenko had been completely
cut off after the stake sale to Tornqvist.
"Therefore, it (Gunvor) said its finances or debts would not
be affected," one banker said.
Existing lenders also received an email on Monday from
Gunvor with the minutes of an internal meeting about the stake
sale, the sources said.
Although some of Gunvor's lenders remain unconvinced by the
rapid change of ownership, Gunvor still has access to the bank
loans that supply most of its debt.
On Monday banks allowed the company to make a scheduled
drawdown on an existing $850 million revolving credit for Gunvor
Singapore. The deal was signed in May last year.
"The company (Gunvor) did not breach any covenants or
default, so there is no reason for us not to let them draw the
funds," one of the participants in the 2013 loan one.
"However, we need to watch how the situation evolves before
we decide to join the upcoming refinancing."
U.S. sanctions were imposed days after Gunvor told lenders
the dates for the roadshows for the new loan, which is to
refinance the existing $850 million, dual-tranche loan signed in
Gunvor has not publicly disclosed a specific figure for the
deal, which could total anything from $500 million to $700
million, people familiar with the situation said.
Like many commodity trading companies, Gunvor relies
primarily on the syndicated loan market for debt to finance its
daily trading activities.
Loan bankers last week said they were concerned the new loan
could fall through if the sanctions against Timchenko were to
have any implications for the company.
Bankers said that Gunvor's refinancing was scheduled to
launch in early April, with roadshows scheduled for April 7 in
Shanghai, April 9 in Singapore and April 11 in Taipei.
Those dates have not been finalised, but an early to mid
April launch looks likely, a person familiar with the matter
The pricing on Gunvor's new loan has not been revealed, but
terms and conditions could change to reflect the company's new
circumstances, bankers said.
(Additional reporting by Jacqueline Poh; Editing by Tessa Walsh
and Jane Baird)