UPDATE 1-Trafigura completes Congo Republic oil loan restructuring

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LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - Trafigura has finalised the restructuring of an oil-backed loan to Congo Republic, fulfilling one of the IMF’s conditions for unlocking bailout money for the debt-laden country.

The Geneva-based global commodities trader has been in talks with Brazzaville for several years to renegotiate repayment terms, and reached a deal this year, a Trafigura spokeswoman said, without giving any further details.

Bailout money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been on hold pending the restructuring of the central African country’s oil prepayments with Trafigura and Glencore, with the combined debt to traders totalling about $1.7 billion.

Trafigura had initially lent around $1 billion in 2014 with a maturity in 2019. Glencore, backed by banks, lent Brazzaville $850 million between 2015 and 2016 to be repaid with future oil deliveries over five years.

A spokesman for the government did not respond to requests for comment by email or telephone.

A spokesman for Glencore had no immediate comment.

The IMF approved a $449 million, three-year programme in 2019 to help Congo’s ailing economy, but only $45 million has been disbursed with other funds subject to semi-annual reviews.

More IMF disbursements could help unlock another nearly $900 million in financing from the World Bank, African Development Bank and France who are all backing the rescue programme.

Negotiations between the trading firms and Congo began in early 2018 and were at times fraught as Brazzaville pushed for a partial capital writedown.

Congo, whose oil production is around 340,000 barrels per day (bpd) also reneged on its obligations, providing only sporadic cargoes to Trafigura and none to Glencore since 2018. (Reporting by Julia Payne; Additional reporting by Bate Felix in Dakar; Editing by Jan Harvey and Alexander Smith)