Russia

Russia’s largest lender Sberbank does not see itself as the future owner of the Antipinsky oil refinery, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, Sberbank deputy board chairman Anatoly Popov said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The refinery, which has a capacity of 9 million tonnes per year, filed for bankruptcy in May after having halted operations on several occasions because of a lack of funds to pay for crude oil deliveries. Sberbank had been its main creditor.

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When Ayuka Tserenov lost his job as a loan officer at the giant Kremlin-run lender Sberbank three years ago, he found himself staring at nearly Rbs3.5m ($52,760) in debt, the Financial Times reported. He had taken out a Rbs2.5m loan from his employer to buy an apartment in his southern hometown of Elista when he and his wife had their first child. Mr Tserenov’s Rbs40,000 monthly wage was not enough to cover the down payment, so he took out another Rbs250,000 from another bank, then went deeper into debt to cover further living expenses.

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Russian coal and steel producer Mechel has asked state-controlled lenders Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank for more time to make its debt repayments, the banks and company said on Thursday, Reuters reported. Mechel, which had already postponed debt repayments to 2020-2022 following lengthy restructuring talks with Russian state banks earlier this year, is now asking to push payments back to 2024-2026, an executive at Sberbank, one of its key lenders, said.

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President Vladimir Putin has given officials until the end of August to make proposals on how Russia should assess commercial borrowers' risks under new international rules that the domestic banking sector plans to adopt, Economy Minister Maxim Oreshkin said, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. The central bank is voluntarily signing the sector up to the Basel III reforms, aimed at strengthening the regulation, supervision and risk management of banks and due to be fully implemented within the European Union by 2027.

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A Spanish court has summoned Mikhail Fridman, who controls retailer DIA, to appear before it next month in an investigation into the bankruptcy of digital entertainment firm Zed Worldwide, a judicial source said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Fridman had been called to the Madrid-based Audiencia Nacional major crimes court on Sept. 12 after a Spanish anti-graft prosecutor alleged that the Russian tycoon had played a role in Zed’s bankruptcy, the judicial source told Reuters. A spokesman for Fridman said he had not received any legal notification regarding the summons.

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The growth in consumer lending has alarmed some economic policy officials, who note that a growing number of Russians are using a quick swipe of plastic or relying on payday lenders to cope with hard times brought on by Western sanctions and slumping prices for oil, one of the country’s major export commodities, the International New York Times reported. The spending has lifted the economy but with ballooning consumer debt that could help start a recession.

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Croatian food company Fortenova Grupa, the Balkan region’s biggest firm by sales, said on Friday that more than 80% of its shareholders had supported the issuance of a four-year bond worth up to 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion), Reuters reported. The bond is aimed at financing a 1.1 billion euro liquidity loan the firm, formerly known as Agrokor, took two years ago to avoid bankruptcy, the company said in a statement. That followed an expansion drive based on high and expensive debt.

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Russian coal and steel producer Mechel has asked banks to push back its debt repayments to 2024-2026 from 2020-2024, Interfax news agency cited an executive at Russian state lender Sberbank as saying on Wednesday. Mechel, once on the brink of bankruptcy, has been in restructuring talks with its lenders for several years, Reuters reported. Its debt to Russia’s three largest state-controlled banks - Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank - stands at 347.5 billion roubles ($5.5 billion).

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Loans to Venezuela from President Nicolas Maduro’s allies Russia and China would be renegotiated though the Paris Club if Maduro leaves power, an advisor to the opposition said on Wednesday, responding to concerns about favourable treatment for the two countries, Reuters reported. Ricardo Hausmann, who represents opposition leader Juan Guaido at the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), said Guaido’s team has not determined how loans might be restructured under its governance because bilateral debt talks typically take place under the auspices of the Paris Club creditor group.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed international sanctions and falling energy prices for declining incomes that have led to a drop in living standards for average Russians and caused mounting social discontent. The demise in quality of life has contributed to a battering in Mr. Putin’s domestic approval ratings and the negative sentiment threatens to overshadow his almost two decades in power. In his annual “Direct Line,” a carefully choreographed event where citizens submit questions via phone, video calls and the internet, Mr.

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