Russia's Lukoil Close To Hiring Banks For $1B Loan

LONDON, March 20, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Russia's OAO Lukoil is close to mandating several banks for a $1 billion loan facility for general corporate purposes, said people familiar with the situation Thursday. "The deal is about 90% agreed," one of the people said.

Banks likely to be formally mandated soon are ABN AMRO Holding NV, BNP Paribas SA, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, ING Groep NV, Mizuho, Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and WestLB AG, the people said.

The facility is likely to be divided between a three-year and a five-year loan facility. Pricing has yet to be confirmed but is likely to be 80-90 basis points over Libor for the three-year loan and 90-100 basis points for the five-year facility, the people said.

"There is a lot of interest in lending to Russian companies at the moment due to the country's high level of natural resources," one person said.

And with the bond markets shut at present to Russian borrowers, the loan market is one funding avenue that currently remains open to them, the person added.

LONDON, March 20, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)