Sberbank sells first Russian Eurobond since Crimea annexation

By bne IntelliNews June 24, 2014

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In a major test of sentiment towards the country, state-owned giant Sberbank on June 23 got away Russia's first major Eurobond since the annexation of Crimea in March. 

Investors bought €1bn of the five-and-a-half year notes in what was the bank's first ever Euro-denominated bond, with the issue two times oversubscribed. The notes are due in November 2019 and were issued at 260 basis points above mid swaps, according to Nick Darrant at BNP Paribas, reports Bloomberg.

The Kremlin will be delighted, as the issue potentially opens the door for other Russian issuers to try to tap international markets after months of struggle for access. It also suggests a growing divide between the tough talk out of Washington and Brussels over sanctions how the international financial markets and business see the Russia.

The issue could also have a positive impact on Russian capital flight, as the willingness of bond traders to buy Russian paper suggests the international market doesn't take the threat of more or harsh financial sanctions on Russia very seriously. Money was already fleeing Russia in droves ahead of the Ukraine crisis, but that has snowballed since the start of the year, bringing heavy pressure on the ruble and casting doubt on economic growth.

Tim Ash, head of research at Standard Bank, commented in a note: "The fact that this deal was put to bed, with Western banks leading the deal, will be viewed by many people as suggesting that the West is not very serious about sanctions."

"The message now seems to be that marketable securities will somehow be excluded from any sanctions regime," he adds. "We are now likely to see a flurry of issuance from Russian banks and corporates, as a result, and the message will be it is business as usual."

The analyst suggests the signal that the West is unwilling to push sanctions that would hit financial investors means that the wider action mooted against Moscow over its continued support for separatists in Ukraine is now highly unlikely. "Given the reluctance to use stealth financial sanctions, it seems that sectorial sanctions on Russia are now very unlikely, Ash writes. 

 

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