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Sanctioned Russian bank VTB pays bond coupons in roubles

© Reuters. Plastic letters arranged to read “Sanctions” are placed in front of VTB bank logo in this illustration taken, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(Reuters) -Sanctioned Russian lender VTB has made coupon payments in roubles to holders of its domestic subordinated bonds denominated in dollars and euros, the National Settlement Depository said on Tuesday.

Russia’s ability to continue servicing debt in foreign currencies is in focus as the government, which has so far avoided a default, faces issues paying holders of its sovereign debt.

State-owned VTB, Russia’s second-largest bank, made coupon payments in roubles on its two bonds denominated in foreign currencies issued on its home market in 2021, regulatory fillings disclosed by the bank showed.

On Monday VTB made a total of 255.7 million roubles ($3.1 million) in coupon payouts on its two euro-denominated bonds and 312.3 million roubles on the dollar-denominated bond issued last year, the documents showed.

Some of Russian companies in other sectors have encountered difficulties in servicing their external debt obligations as western payment agents were delaying payments as more checks are needed amid a wave of sanctions.

Earlier on Tuesday diamond producer Alrosa said it had asked its trustee to apply to the UK’s sanctions regulator for a special licence to allow it to make coupon payments on its $500 million Eurobond.

State-owned Russian Railways has said it attempted to make interest payments on bonds denominated in Swiss francs but was unable to do so.

Steelmaker Evraz on Tuesday said it had made a regular coupon payment on $700 million of bonds maturing in 2024, with payment transferred to investors on time and via their respective clearing systems.

The default risk carries possible lasting consequences for Russia, which now has limited access to its gold and foreign exchange reserves because about $300 billion of state assets have been frozen by Western sanctions in response to what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

If Russia fails to make any of its looming bond payments within their pre-defined timeframes, or pays in roubles where dollars, euros or another currency is specified, it will constitute a default.

While Russia is unable to access international borrowing markets because of sanctions, a default would prohibit it from accessing those markets until creditors are fully repaid and any default-related legal cases are settled.

($1 = 82.4540 roubles)

Sanctioned Russian bank VTB pays bond coupons in roubles

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