Ukraine picks Rothschild as advisor, hopes for debt swap

LONDON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Ukraine, which is expected by investors to soon embark on extending its debt maturities, has appointed Rothschild as an advisor to its finance ministry, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Kiev is preparing to return to international capital markets this month, having appointed Citi, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan to lead a bond issue - its first since a 2015 debt restructuring.

It is unclear what service Rothschild will perform though one source told Reuters the bank would help Ukraine “manage medium-term debt liabilities”.

Markets have been expecting Kiev to come up with a plan on extending the maturity across its sovereign Eurobond curve in order to lighten its short-term debt servicing burden. A large number of bond payments are due annually between 2019 and 2027 as a result of the restructuring.

Kiev has not said how much debt it hopes to swap out but parliament voted on Thursday to remove a tax for foreign investors on profit earned on debt swap operations.

“This (the law) is necessary to obtain the right legal opinion and carry out high quality talks with international investors with whom it is planned to carry out a swap of old state bonds that need to be repaid in 2019 for new bonds,” Member of parliament Andriy Zhurzhiy said, urging lawmakers to approve the bill.

Thomson Reuters data shows $2.4 billion worth of dollar-denominated debt issued by the state and state-owned subsidiaries will mature next year, with another $5.4 billion and $4.6 billion coming due in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

As part of its debt restructuring, Kiev received $8.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), helping it recover from a two-year recession following the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and the outbreak of a Russian-backed insurgency in its industrial east.

As part of the IMF programme, Kiev is expected to regularly tap international financial market through selling hard-currency denominated bonds.

In its staff report published in April, the IMF projected Ukraine to sell $1 billion of Eurobonds this year, $2 billion a year from 2018-2020 and $3 billion in 2021. (Reporting by Sujata Rao, Karin Strohecker in London; and Natalia Zinets in Kiev; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)