24 Dec 2009 15:01

Russia swaps $406 mln of commercial debt for Eurobonds

MOSCOW. Dec 24 (Interfax) - The Russian Finance Ministry has swapped $405.8 million in Soviet-era commercial debt for Russian Eurobonds in the third and final stage of the debt swap, the ministry said.

The swap closed on December 22. The ministry received more than 1,900 claims from creditors in 24 countries.

Bonds eligible for the swap are issued bonds that have been bought on the secondary market and are identical to all other traded bonds maturing in 2010 and 2030. New Eurobonds have not been issued for the purposes of the debt swap.

Eligible bond holders have received 2010 and 2030 bonds with $5.1 million and $307.5 million of principal debt outstanding plus a total of $262.9 million cash.

Now this swap has been completed, Russia has rounded off the restructuring process for Soviet-era debt for which it has agreed to accept legal responsibility. The Finance Ministry has said on several occasions that rounding off the Soviet-era commercial debt swap is a key condition for Russia to return to the Eurobond market.

Russia has now reconciled a total of 12,700 claims by foreign commercial creditors for debt equivalent to $12.8 billion. The whole process of settling the Soviet-era commercial debt has taken more than 15 years.

The Finance Ministry exchanged a first tranche of former Soviet commercial debt for Russian Eurobonds in December 2002, recognizing claims of $1.28 billion. As a result of the exchange, the total Eurobond issue amounted to $1.374 billion, including $184 million in Eurobonds maturing in 2010 and $1.19 billion in bonds maturing in 2030.

The second tranche was exchanged at the end of 2006, with $1.075 billion of former Soviet commercial debt converted into $140.5 million of Eurobonds maturing in 2010 and $907.8 million of Eurobonds maturing in 2030.