Rosneft Signs $1.35Bln Loan With Consortium

LONDON -- Rosneft has signed a $1.35 billion, 15-month secured pre-export loan, in the first deal agreed for a Russian company this year, banking sources said Monday.

The deal has been provided on a club basis by six Western banks, the sources said, adding that it was expected to be refinanced by a capital markets takeout or a pre-export financing in May or June.

"The business [is taking] a cautious start in the form of club loans and extended trilaterals," a senior loans banker said.

The six banks are Deutsche Bank, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Calyon, SG and Santander.

Syndicated loan bankers have said the scarcity of capital means that loans cannot be underwritten and for the foreseeable future will have to be clubbed, which negates the syndication process.

Loans will also have to be structured as secured pre-export financing deals to provide added security for lenders.

The sources said only a select group of Russian firms will be able to approve new loans as bankers remain cautious about lending to Russian borrowers.

Like Rosneft, which is seen by lenders as a blue-chip oil company, borrowers must have a network of strong relationship banks.

"One would expect that people are likely to still be able to look at oil and gas loans in Russia, to the extent that it has a pre-export structure and is well-priced," an emerging markets specialist said.

Rosneft's previous syndicated loan was a $2.85 billion crude oil export-backed loan signed in July 2008 to help repay loans raised in 2007 to finance acquisitions.