Oil and Gas

Venezuela's PDVSA uses 49.9 pct Citgo stake as loan collateral

CARACAS, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA said on Friday it has used 49.9 percent of its shares in U.S. subsidiary Citgo as collateral for loan financing, two months after having used the other 50.1 percent as collateral in a bond operation.

Finance industry publication REDD this week reported that the shares had been pledged as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan from Russian oil firm Rosneft, citing a source and a filing in the state of Delaware.

PDVSA is struggling under low oil prices and an unraveling socialist economy, spurring investor concerns that it may not be able to meet heavy bond payments. President Nicolas Maduro dismisses default talk as a campaign against him.

“Just as PDVSA in the month of October used 50.1 percent of Citgo for the bond swap operation, it has used the remaining 49.9 percent for new financing,” the company said in a statement, without detailing the financing agreement.

Reuters was unable to immediately obtain comment from Rosneft.

Citgo owns three refineries and a network of terminals and pipelines in the United States.

Venezuelan opposition leaders have pounced on the Citgo decision as evidence that Maduro’s government is drawing down state assets to finance a collapsing economic system. PDVSA in its statement on Friday said the media and the opposition were distorting the issue as part of a campaign against it.

PDVSA in October completed a $2.8 billion bond swap that helped push heavy 2017 payment obligations into 2020. The operation had considerably lower participation than had been originally anticipated, but was broadly seen by investors as improving the firm’s cash flow. (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Leslie Adler)