Ukrainian court orders PrivatBank to service bailed-in British deposits

By bne IntelliNews February 24, 2017

A court in Kyiv has ruled that the nationalised PrivatBank should accrue and pay interest under agreements with six British companies that had demanded the lender and its subsidiaries should "properly perform deposit agreements" with them.

The companies are very likely to have been recognised by the Ukrainian government as related parties of PrivatBank under the lender's previous owners, and their deposit accounts to have been bailed-in during the bank's takeover by the state.

The government in December announced the nationalisation of PrivatBank, owned by oligarchs Ihor Kolomoisky and Hennady Boholyubov, after it failed to fulfil a three-year recapitalisation plan. The bank was found to have a UAH148bn (€5.1bn) hole in its balance sheet as of early December.

The court also prohibited the bank from stopping or blocking the use of the companies' accounts in the bank, and from freely using the money from their accounts to make any payments, including share purchases, the Finbalance online outlet reported on February 24.

"The decision of the court will be very likely appealed, and this court case may last for a long time," Alexander Paraschiy at the Kyiv-based brokerage Concorde Capital wrote in a research note. "Also, it's not clear how the bank may implement this court ruling if the accounts of the six British companies were written down, in full accordance with Ukrainian legislation."

The ruling shows that the legal position of the Ukrainian government in the bail-in case is "not so strong", Paraschiy added. "We expect that the companies mentioned above will continue to attack through Ukrainian courts, and some of the courts will make decision in their favour."

The situation could also be "encouraging" for holders of Privatbank’s Eurobonds, he added.

The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) officially confirmed in December that no payments to PrivatBank bondholders will be made on the lender's various Eurobonds. Each of the loans represented by the loan agreements was bailed-in during the temporary administration of the bank. The lender had three issues of Eurobonds maturing in 2018 ($375mn) and 2021 ($220mn).

On January 26, NBU governor Valeriya Gontareva said the regulator is ready to defend in court its decision to bail-in PrivatBank's Eurobonds. Gontareva added that the move was agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country's main donor, and the World Bank.

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