Belarus Backtracks After Spooking Market With Debt Restructuring Talk

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko spooked bond markets on Thursday by speaking of a possible restructuring of $4 billion of Belarussian foreign debt falling due this year, then softened his comments to refer only to refinancing, Reuters reported. During a marathon news conference the veteran Belarussian leader made the bombshell comment that Belarus might hold talks to restructure its debts if it was struggling to repay them. That triggered a fall of 27 cents to the dollar in the value of Belarussian sovereign bonds. But part way through his seven-hour press conference he changed his script. With a sell-off still underway in Belarus's foreign debt, he sought to reassure bondholders and spoke only of a possible "refinancing". Belarus's finance ministry also hurriedly stepped in to say that the country had enough resources to fulfill its debt obligations in 2015 and that it was not considering restructuring. The Minsk government was working with the National Bank to attract resources for refinancing part of the debt, it said in a statement. Refinancing means borrowing on the market to meet debt obligations; restructuring means re-negotiating the terms, rates and conditionality of a debt. Read more.