Belarus in talks with Sberbank on Eurobond issue

By Andrei Makhovsky

MINSK, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Belarus is in talks with Sberbank , Russia's largest lender, on the organisation of a maiden Eurobond issue that could raise upward of $500 million, Belarussian Finance Minister Andrei Kharkovets said on Thursday.

"Negotiations are under way on the premise that Sberbank is prepared to offer its services," Kharkovets told reporters, when asked about the organisers of the issue.

"I think that, for a debut issue, the optimum sum should be no less than $500 million," he said.

Belarus plans to issue a maiden eurobond in 2010, following in the footsteps of Russia, Kazakhstan and many other economies also eyeing sales next year.

The former Soviet republic has seen its economy dented badly by deteriorating demand from recession-routed Russia and Europe, its chief exports markets, forcing it to look for sources of external funding.

Kharkovets, speaking on Nov. 12, said Belarus had already been offered "significant" loans by Sberbank, which will cover a large part of the country's external financing needs this year. [ID:nLC468914]

Belarus is one of the least reformed of the pre-1990 eastern bloc and, beyond exports, has been largely reliant on cheap gas and other resources from its bigger neighbours to get by.

In September, the government sharply lowered its 2009 gross domestic product (GDP) forecast to growth of 1-2 percent, against earlier estimates of a 2-5 percent expansion. ((; +7 495 775 1242; Reuters Messaging:


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