KIEV, March 1 Ukrainian state
telecommunications firm Ukrtelekom has reached agreement with
Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and Standard Bank to delay payment
of par of its $500 million loan, it said on Monday.
Ukrtelekom, the dominant fixed-line operator that had been
slated for privatisation for years, became the third
state-owned firm that sought to restructure its foreign debt
along with energy company Naftogaz and the railways operator.
Ukrtelekom said it agreed to repay $41.7 million of the
debt by May 25, past a Feb. 25 deadline.
The restructuring was far smaller than that of Naftogaz,
which swapped its foreign debt for a new $1.6 billion Eurobond.
The state railways operator is still in talks to change the
terms of a $550 million syndicated loan.
Ukrtelekom's initial public offering had been delayed by
political wrangling and infighting. Estimates for its value
have swung anywhere from $1 billion to $3 billion.
The company has been helped by the state by holding the
only 3G license, but is weak in the mobile market against
competitors such as Russian MTS MTSI.MM and Kyivstar,
controlled by Russia's Alfa Group and Norway's Telenor
Analysts and investors worried all last year that Ukraine
was on the verge of a sovereign default. Although the state
never did delay debt repayments, the technical default of
Naftogaz proved some of those fears right.
Despite implicit guarantees, none of the restructured loans
were found to actually have a state guarantee, which meant that
negotiations did not translate into a sovereign default.
(Reporting by Yuri Kulikov; writing by Sabina Zawadzki;
editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)