Sberbank to Lend $1.1 Billion to Slovakia's Largest Power Company

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Slovensko Elektrarne Will Have to Buy Russian Nuclear Exports

MOSCOW—Russia's largest lender Sberbank (SBER.MZ +0.11%) has agreed to provide a loan of €870 million ($1.18 billion) to Slovenske Elektrarne, some of which Slovakia's largest power company will have to spend on Russian nuclear exports, the companies said Tuesday.

The deal signed Monday follows a memorandum of understanding the two parties sealed at an international business forum in St. Petersburg in May, which came against a backdrop of cooling relations between Russia and the West over Ukraine crisis.

Luca D'Agnese, general manager of Slovenske Elektrarne, which is a subsidiary of Italian utility Enel Group, said his company will use the loan, provided for 7.5 years, to purchase Russia's nuclear fuel, particularly from the state nuclear corporation Rosatom. Slovensko Elektrarne will also channel the funds into investment in nuclear technology and a new power plant in Mochovce, Mr. D'Agnese said.

The head of Russia's export insurance agency, Pyotr Fradkov, said that his institution will ensure that €300 million of the loan will be spent on exports from Russia.

The loan to Slovenske Elektrarne will be provided in three tranches. The first tranche of €170 million will be received in the near term from Sberbank's branches in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The second tranche of €300 million, designed to cover Russia's exports, will be provided in rubles by Sberbank Russia and Sberbank Slovakia on Sept. 29. The remaining €400 million will be channeled by Sberbank Russia and Sberbank Slovakia by the end of the year.

Sberbank's president, German Gref, who signed the loan agreement with Mr. D'Agnese in the bank's headquarters in Moscow, declined to comment on the interest rate, saying it was a "commercial secret."

When asked about implications of a new possible round of Western sanctions against Moscow, which has already seen sanctions over the country's annexation of Ukraine's region of Crimea, Mr. Gref said he doesn't expect any more sanctions.

Last week, Mr. Gref said Sberbank was considering selling its branches in Crimea. His statement underpinned the Bank of Russia view that banks are interested in doing business in the Crimea region but are afraid of possible sanctions. Both Sberbank and the country's second largest lender, VTB, said they aren't planning to do business in Crimea, shielding themselves from Western sanctions that have so far hit only a few Russian banks of no key importance.

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