Oil report

Russia's VEB to lend $1.5 bln to mining industry

MOSCOW, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Russian state-owned bank VEB’s supervisory board approved a proposal to lend $1.5 billion to domestic metals and mining companies for them to refinance foreign loans, the bank said on Wednesday.

VEB, or Vneshekonombank, did not provide any details on which companies would receive the loans.

The Kremlin has entrusted the bank with distributing a $50 billion rescue package to help Russian companies refinance a total of $120 billion of Western loans by the end of 2009.

VEB paid out some of these funds this month, including an $800 million loan to steel maker Evraz Group HK1q.L and a $750 million loan to Gazprom Neft SIBN.MM.

In October, it also agreed to lend $4.5 billion to RUSAL so that the aluminium giant could repay loans taken out to acquire a 25 percent plus two-shares stake in Norilsk Nickel GMKN.MM. [ID:nLU464832] (Reporting by Alfred Kueppers; Editing by Erica Billingham)