July 24, 2019 / 2:55 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Russia's Mechel seeks to postpone debt repayments to 2024-26 -Ifax

(Updates to add context, quotes)

MOSCOW, July 24 (Reuters) - Russian coal and steel producer Mechel has asked banks to push back its debt repayments to 2024-2026 from 2020-2024, Interfax news agency cited an executive at Russian state lender Sberbank as saying on Wednesday.

Mechel, once on the brink of bankruptcy, has been in restructuring talks with its lenders for several years.

Its debt to Russia’s three largest state-controlled banks - Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank - stands at 347.5 billion roubles ($5.5 billion).

Mechel submitted a new restructuring proposal to the banks in June, chief financial officer Nelli Galeeva was cited by Interfax as saying at the time, adding that the company hoped an agreement could be reached before the end of the year.

Sberbank is considering Mechel’s request, the lender’s deputy board chairman Anatoly Popov was quoted as saying by Interfax on Wednesday.

Mechel declined to comment. VTB said Mechel was repaying its debts on schedule and its proposal would be considered in due course, Interfax cited the lender as saying.

Gazprombank said it had not yet received an official request from Mechel, Interfax reported.

Mechel, controlled by Russian businessman Igor Zyuzin, borrowed extensively during the commodities boom in the 2000s. Its lengthy restructuring following the 2008 financial crisis was exacerbated by Russia’s economic crisis in 2014.

In April 2017, Russia’s three largest state banks confirmed a restructuring of $5.1 billion of the company’s more than $6 billion debt.

In July 2018, Mechel made significant progress in restructuring the remainder of its debt after obtaining a loan to refinance an earlier pre-export financing agreement worth $1 billion.

The company is also in talks with lenders of its credit agency-guaranteed (ECA) loan, which stands at $460 million.

In its latest earnings report Mechel said its net debt excluding fines and penalties had dropped to 456.6 billion roubles at the end of the first quarter of 2019, from 467.7 billion roubles at the end of 2018. ($1 = 63.0910 roubles) (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Polina Ivanova; Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by David Goodman and David Evans)

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