Belarus Plans 7-Year Dollar Benchmark Bond - Source

By Clare Connaghan


LONDON (Dow Jones)--Belarus is planning to sell a seven-year, dollar-denominated benchmark bond, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday.

BNP Paribas SA, Deutsche Bank AG, The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC., and Sberbank are acting as lead managers for the transaction, which could price as early as Wednesday.

Yield guidance for the deal has been set in the low 9% area, the source said.

The bond deal comes amid growing international tensions over the government's violent crackdown on its opposition after last month's disputed presidential election.

After Alexander Lukashenko was elected to a fourth term, protesters took to the streets, and more than 700 people, including seven candidates who ran against him, were arrested. The former Soviet republic now faces sanctions from the U.S. and the European Union unless it quickly frees its opponents.

Belarus is rated B1 by Moody's Investors Service Inc. and B+ by Standard & Poor's Corp.

Led since 1994 by Lukashenko, Belarus has a centrally controlled economy with strong ties to Russia.

During the financial crisis, it sought financial aid from the International Monetary Fund, which in turn called for changes in the exchange rate regime, a step-up in structural reforms and the pursuit of a balanced budget.

Belarus first tapped the international bond market in July, when it sold a $600 million, five-year bond at a yield of 9%.

-By Clare Connaghan, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0) 20 7842 9496;


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