Rosneft Set to Clear $22Bln Yukos Loan

Rosneft, the country's most indebted oil company, said Thursday that it had raised a $2.85 billion export-backed loan and put aside cash to start repaying $7.3 billion of debts ahead of schedule.

The company said in a statement that it had already repaid more than $5 billion and would redeem another $2.3 billion in September, the last outstanding part of a $22 billion bridge loan — one of the world's biggest ever — it took last year to acquire assets of bankrupt rival Yukos.

Rosneft's stock rose 3.7 percent, outperforming the broader RTS and the MICEX oil and gas index.

"We are pleased with both our debt reduction and refinancing, particularly in light of difficult financial market conditions over the past 12 months," Rosneft president Sergei Bogdanchikov said in the statement.

The export-backed loan was organized by Deutsche Bank with oil exports used as collateral — the favorite type of financing by state-controlled Rosneft, which has no public debt despite its repeated promises to tap the eurobond market.

The five-year deal pays a margin of 125 basis points over the London interbank offered rate, slightly more than the 95 basis points margin the borrower paid on its previous $3.43 billion, five-year loan in April.

The loan was provided by 13 lenders in a club deal, meaning that the facility was not openly syndicated but was put together by the borrower's relationship banks, a banking source said.

The debt deal is called R-Trade7 and is similar to six previous deals. Oil firms and traders Shell, BP, Vitol and Sempra will act as crude off-takers, lifting around 400,000 tons per month starting in July 2009.

But unlike previous trade finance deals, traders will provide $800 million of their own cash out of the $2.85 billion, said one source, who asked not to be identified.

In June, Rosneft borrowed $2.35 billion from Western banks, putting 3.7 percent of its stock as collateral in a repo operation.

The 125 basis points margin on the new export-backed loan means that it is cheaper than if the company had borrowed on the eurobond market.

By comparison, last month Russia's No. 3 bank, Gazprombank, raised a $500 million eurobond at a coupon of 7.93 percent.

Rosneft has pledged to reduce its debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization ratio to one in 2008 to 2009. Its net debt fell $2.7 billion to $23.58 billion as of March 31. First quarter EBITDA was just under $4.7 billion.