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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

90% Accept Kiev T-Bill Swap Deal

KIEV -- About 90 percent of nonresident holders of short-term Ukrainian treasury bills have taken up a government offer to exchange the paper for longer-term bonds, a government source said Friday.

The scheme is part of government plans to maintain reserves, relieve pressure on the hryvna currency and stave off spillover effects from the financial crisis in Russia.

Friday was the latest of several deadlines set for the swap to be completed. The source said he believed it was logical that Ukrainian authorities could once again extend what they have described as a "voluntary" scheme despite the lack of a clear alternative.

"Already 90 percent of nonresidents have exchanged their notes and it therefore follows that the deadline could be extended," the source said.

Finance Ministry officials were unavailable for comment. Interfax quoted the ministry press secretary as saying that, according to preliminary data, the conversion scheme had been completed.

It said final figures would be available early next week but did not elaborate further.

After weeks of talks, compromises and extended deadlines, the Finance Ministry had said Fridaycould be the last chance for foreigners f and some Ukrainians f to take up the offer.

Officials had said that prior to the latest deadline around 75 percent of eligible investors had agreed to the plan.

Roger Monson, head of equity strategy at Rabobank International in London, said the ministry would probably announce another conversion, perhaps as early as Monday, if it failed to meet its target of 100 percent.

The scheme, launched Sept. 9, has stirred controversy. The credit rating agency Standard & Poor's has said the terms under which Ukraine has asked foreigners and domestic banks to swap a total of about 4 billion hryvnas of T-bills for longer-term debt constitute default. Ukrainian officials deny the charge.