Saturday, August 2, 2014

2/8/2013: Sanctions v Russia: Some Fallout, Some Fizzle

One of possible fallouts from the latest round of sanctions against Russia is the effect of banking sector restrictions on funding of Russian banks.

I commented on this before, but left out some specifics. One area of concern is syndication markets - currently not covered by sanctions explicitly. Bloomberg reported yesterday that some banks might be scaling back their syndication operations with Russian banks. VTB is facing refinancing USD3.1 billion worth of syndicated loans - this has been put on ice since June. One factor is high risk of US fines should sanctions expand and the banks get caught in the middle of transacting with Russian counterparts.

In related news, UK RBS cut back funding for Russian clients. RBS has GBP2.1 billion exposure to Russia, with net exposure of GBP1.8 billion, down GBP100 million in the H1 2014. Some GBP900 million is exposure to Russian corporates and GBP600 mlm to Russian banks. Russia accounts for roughly 3% of RBS balance sheet and the bank is now aggressively cutting new operations in Russia, in line with sanctions.

Meanwhile, MSCI is now offering a new EM index excluding Russian equities and is planning a new MSCI Russia index excluding VTB shares. All in the name of giving investors comfort that they comply with the US sanctions. VTB is being excluded because it is the only listed Russian bank that faces restrictions on credit issuance and equity trading in the US (other banks - Bank Rossiyi and Rosselkhozbank are not listed), European sanctions cover same operations for the above three, plus Gazprombank and Sberbank. Sanctions are set with duration of 12 months from issuance and are subject review every 3 months. S&P and DJ are expected to follow MSCI indices revisions. More on this :

On liquidity effects of the sanctions, Moody's issued a note yesterday saying that Russian markets are facing no liquidity risk as corporate balance sheets are enjoying significant cash buffers, sufficient to cover bonds redemptions over 18 months period. More:

And Bloomberg View agrees, on the aggregate: "Russia owes its bond creditors about $153 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Some $126 billion of the nation's debt, though, is denominated in rubles. A further $26 billion is dollar debt, with just $1 billion owed in euros. That makes Russia relatively immune to the need to raise foreign capital to refinance its debts… Russia has raised about $3.5 billion through domestic bond sales this year, and has also tapped the state pension fund for a further $2.9 billion. Raising rubles won't be a problem; the finance ministry can always strong-arm domestic institutions into showing up at the auctions and accepting lower yields. So, just in case anyone was expecting Mr. Market to do any work for them in punishing Russia for its Ukrainian adventures, think again."

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