Ruble surges as exporters repatriate revenues

By bne IntelliNews December 18, 2014

bne IntelliNews -

The ruble surged back from the abyss following a meeting of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and top government officials with the heads of some of Russia's leading exporters to discuss the situation on the currency markets.

Following the meeting, the dollar fell by 8.7% against the ruble to close at RUB61.6, while the euro fell by 9.55% to RUB77.0.

Medvedev reportedly instructed Russia's central bank and the financial intelligence unit to monitor exporters' sales of hard currency revenues to ensure they were "rhythmic and stabile".

The implication is that the exporters were told to voluntarily repatriate more of their hard currency revenues. "No one forced anybody to do anything and no one threatened, but an agreement was reached," an official at the meeting told business daily Vedomosti. According to Vedomosti, the agreement was that on March 1, 2015, the companies should have the same level of foreign currency assets as on October 1, 2014.

The full agreement between exporters and government is likely to be detailed by President Vladimir Putin in a telemarathon question and answer session on December 18, according to newspaper Kommersant.

Another official told Vedomosti that the government merely wants exporters to return to previous levels of hard currency sales. "It's not quite right if you need rubles to issue bonds instead of selling hard currency revenues," the official said.

The new monitoring regime affects all companies with large hard currency revenues the official said. State companies will receive instructions on this count, whereas private companies will reach informal agreements. "Companies will behave responsibly," said the official, "or otherwise the government will form a bad impression of them and reflect this in its work," he added.

Most of the exporters seemed ready to comply with the monitoring regime. But some may have problems doing so - state-owned oil giant Rosneft has to pay back $6.9bn in debt on December 21 and another $7.3bn on February 13, 2015, as well as pay for imported equipment. With the collapse in oil prices, companies need to build up hard currency funds for future payments. 

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