Russian Majors Shift to Domestic Bond Market

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Russian energy majors are looking to domestic capital markets as sanctions limit their access to Western financing.

Russia's Gazprom Neft will issue a series of ruble-denominated bonds and has already decided to sell more bonds than initially expected.

Gazprom Neft was supposed to issue three-year ruble-denominated bonds worth some 20 billion rubles ($331 million).

But the oil giant increased the amount of the issue to 30 billion rubles buoyed by strong demand from investors. The bonds will be issued by Dec. 6 with a group of Russian banks acting as organizers for the planned issuance.

Gazprom Neft switched to domestic borrowing after the first round of financial sanctions were imposed by the West in 2014, limiting the company's access to international financing.

Now with new rounds of Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, access to foreign financing is completely blocked for most Russian firms.

The board of directors of parent company Gazprom was on Friday supposed to approve the company's higher borrowing plan, shortly after announcing record spending for 2023.

Replacing Eurobonds

Russian companies that were listed overseas were earlier this year forced to delist following requirements from the government.

The companies were also forced to start issuing so-called substitute bonds, which will replace eurobonds of Russian companies that have been partially blocked due to sanctions and external restrictions. Substitute bonds allow companies to restart bond payments to Russian investors.

Russia's state-run Gazprom over the past two months opened books to replace eurobonds issued in 2018 for €1 billion ($1 billion), in 2021 for €500 million, in 2017 for €750 million and in 2016 for €1 billion.

Private Lukoil aims to replace eurobonds worth a total of $6.3 billion.

Apart from tapping the domestic market, Russia is starting to borrow in currencies from so-called friendly countries.

In September, Rosneft placed 15 billion yuan ($2 billion) in 10-year bonds.

The role of these types of transactions is expected to grow in the future.

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