CARACAS, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA announced on Wednesday a $4.5 billion bond sale, accelerating a steep rise in borrowing in the last year with its second-largest issue that will finance operating expenses rather than investments.
The company has taken on more than $10 billion in private loans this year alone through agreements with allied nations including China and Russia, and is struggling to pay billions of dollars in debts to service providers.
The announcement follows a rout in PDVSA bonds this week that helped push yields as high as 17 percent, driven in part by investor concerns over a military occupation over the weekend of shops accused of price gouging.
"PDVSA is continuing with its strategy of issuing debt that is not part of a plan to expand its oil production, which is counterproductive," said Asdrubal Oliveros of Caracas-based Ecoanalitica. "What they're trying to do is address a lack of hard currency."
PDVSA will sell $1.5 billion to the central bank while the remaining $3 billion will be offered to service providers to pay down billions of dollars in accumulated debts - meaning the bulk of the issuance will not raise funds for the company.
This marks the first time PDVSA will sell bonds directly to suppliers. In previous issues, it had sold bonds on the open market and repurchased them to pay off contractors.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters on Wednesday the portion sold to the central bank would be used to pay off debts with Colombian food companies and for the Sicad currency auction system that functions alongside the country's decade-long currency control mechanism.
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