| LONDON, March 31
LONDON, March 31 Syndicated loan bankers are
still waiting for details of a €5.2bn ($5.55 billion)loan that
has been underwritten by Intesa Sanpaolo and finances the
purchase of a 19.5% stake in Russian energy giant Rosneft
, banking sources said.
To syndicate the loan, Intesa will have to give
banks full details of the facility to allow lenders to get
internal credit approvals as Russia is still subject to economic
Sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority and oil
trading company Glencore bought the stake for €10.5bn
in December in one of the biggest transfers of Russian state
assets into private hands since the 1990s.
QIA and Glencore provided €2.8bn and Intesa, Italy's biggest
retail bank, provided a loan for the bulk of the purchase price,
Reuters reported on January 17. It remains unclear how the
balance of €2.2bn was financed.
Antonio Fallico, chairman of Banca Intesa Russia, told
Reuters in February that it was talking to 14 banks to syndicate
the loan with the aim of choosing two to three banks to take up
Intesa initially held talks with lenders after the
acquisition was announced, but further details have not been
forthcoming and bankers are questioning whether the deal will
now be syndicated.
“Intesa said they would launch the deal when the time is
right – when is that?” one banker said.
Intesa Sanpaolo declined to comment.
The Italian government approved the €5.2bn loan on March 20.
The deal was subject to regulatory scrutiny due to the size of
the loan and its potential for entanglement in EU sanctions on
Rosneft, its boss Igor Sechin and Russia’s main state banks
are all subject to sanctions imposed after Russia’s annexation
of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Europe's top court on Tuesday upheld EU sanctions on Russia,
Intesa could chose not to syndicate the loan and keep it on
its balance sheet, bankers said, adding that a fully
underwritten loan of this size would be challenging for any bank
to hold, given the banking industry’s constraints on capital,
“It’s a huge amount to take and hold – I haven’t seen any
fully underwritten loans like this which haven’t then gone out
to syndication – banks are encouraged to do this. I thought it
would be done and dusted by now,” a third banker said.
Bankers contacted Intesa and parent bank IMI for more
information after Fallico’s statement in February, but none has
been forthcoming and lenders are wondering whether to release
resources that have been reserved for the deal.
“The longer they leave it, the less appetite there will be -
we need to see the nuts and bolts of the deal before the heat
goes out of it,” the third banker said.
Time may not be pressing for Intesa, which received a 19.5%
stake in Rosneft as collateral for the loan on January 3,
according to Reuters, and in February Fallico told Reuters that
there was ‘no rush’ in closing the syndication.
($1 = 0.9364 euros)
(Additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes in Milan. Editing by