MOSCOW, April 21 (Reuters) - Russia’s state-owned development bank, VEB, may turn to Asian debt markets as political tensions threaten to push it away from the United States and Europe, its deputy chairman said on Monday.
VEB executives are not on a list of Russian businessmen and politicians targeted by economic sanctions imposed by the West in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last month.
But Washington has threatened further sanctions if Moscow moves troops into eastern Ukraine or fails to stick to the terms of an international agreement to defuse the crisis there.
Referring to VEB’s attempts to refinance a $2.45 billion syndicated loan, deputy chairman Alexander Ivanov said: “Not all the banks are ready to commit to participation in a new loan in an environment of political uncertainty.”
Western banks have been looking to lower their exposure to Russian banks since Ukraine descended into a crisis that has sparked the worst confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.
VEB is a major source of long-term funding for investment projects in strategic sectors defined by Russia’s government. Its supervisory board is headed by the prime minister.
Its loan portfolio totalled almost 500 billion roubles ($14 billion) in 2011 and it aims to increase that to 850 billion roubles by 2015.
Ivanov said VEB has been trying to boost its presence in Asia.
“This is a large market and we have been looking at it for quite a long time... Over the long term, these markets may supplant the European and American markets for us, but it won’t be quick,” he said. (Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by John Stonestreet)