5 Aug 2009 15:48

Transneft to get 5 pp rate cut on Sberbank loans

MOSCOW. Aug 5 (Interfax) - Transneft and Sberbank have agreed on a rate reduction from 18% to 13% on loans, the Russian pipeline operator told Interfax.

Transneft spokesman Igor Demin said the company had agreed on two-year loans at 13% pa with Sberbank. But he said the company's policy at present was focused on longer-term loans. "Long-term loans mean there will be no jumps in transportation tariffs," he said.

"We've repaid all loans payable at 18% pa, and rates on most loans do not exceed 13% at present. We received our most recent loan at 13%," Demin said.

He said 30 billion rubles were left to draw on a Sberbank credit facility of 145 billion rubles. "We owe 65 billion rubles, of which 35 billion rubles are in ten-year bonds with an offer after six years."

Transneft said in an earnings report for the first quarter of 2009 that accounts payable had risen from 280.832 billion rubles to 330.125 billion rubles since the start of the year, and that the biggest amount - 93.87 billion rubles - was owing to Sberbank.

Transneft chief Nikolai Tokarev said at the end of June that the company might refinance its debt to Sberbank with a China Development Bank loan. "Sberbank has today announced a rate of 18% on its credit line - that's serious because the credit line itself is more than 100 billion rubles, which we've already drawn. We're looking at the prospect of using these funds to cover our liabilities on the Sberbank facility, but this issue is still under discussion," Tokarev said.

Transneft and China Development Bank signed a deal in February on a $10-billion loan with a floating rate pegged to LIBOR and repayable in equal installments over 20 years with a five-year grace. Interest is payable every six months until January 1, 2011 and on a monthly basis after that date.

The funds will be used to build pipelines in Russia, including the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) spur from Skovorodino to the Chinese border.

"We've already got $250 million and we'll draw $5 billion by the end of the year," the Transneft chief said at the beginning of June.