February 28, 2014 / 8:56 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Shares in Russia's Mechel slump by more than one-third

* Company blames a slump in its shares on speculation

* Asks Russia’s Central Bank to review the case (Adds details, comments, context, updates shares)

MOSCOW, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Shares in indebted Russian coal miner and steelmaker Mechel collapsed by more than one-third in Moscow on Friday in a move the company said was speculative.

Like other Russian steelmakers, Mechel, which is controlled by billionaire Igor Zyuzin, invested heavily in expansion before the 2008 financial crisis hit demand, forcing it to borrow to support itself.

Its shares were down 29.5 percent at 37.6 roubles in Moscow by 0834 GMT. Earlier on Friday, their fall reached 40 percent - a record low.

Mechel blamed the slump on speculation, saying the company’s financial position was stable. It also asked the Russian Central Bank to review the case.

Two traders and two analysts said the move was probably caused by a so-called margin call, in which a bank sells shares held as security against loans. The low liquidity of Mechel’s shares in Moscow exaggerated the move, they added.

The company saw the similar trading day on Nov. 13, when its shares fell 40 percent in Moscow, hit by concerns over a proposed debt restructuring. By the end of 2013, it managed to agree new loan terms with the main banks.

The company’s net debt stood at $9.4 billion as of late 2013. It plans to raise around $1 billion from the sale of assets this year which would help it to offset the $2 billion debt it has to repay next year, the company said in December. (Reporting by Zlata Garasyuta and Polina Devitt, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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