Ukraine wins payment pause for $20 billion of foreign bonds
Ukraine won approval for a debt-payment freeze from the holders of its international bonds, gaining relief for a budget wrecked by Russia’s invasion.
Investors representing around 75% of $19.6 billion worth of Ukraine’s foreign bonds agreed to defer coupon and principal payments until 2024, the Finance Ministry in Kyiv said on Wednesday.
The restructuring process is backed by Ukraine’s key allies, including the US and the International Monetary Fund, as the country needs cash for everything from paying pensions to defending against a much bigger and richer aggressor. The latest move, along with other measures put forward to creditors, could save the sovereign $5.8 billion.
“We were also happy to hear that majority of our investors expressed willingness to participate in the post-war reconstruction efforts of Ukraine,” the country’s Finance Ministry said in a statement Wednesday citing its Commissioner for Public Debt Management Yuri Butsa. “Hopefully, sooner rather than later we will recover from the economic shock caused by war started by Russia and we’ll come back to the market as always as a responsible and reliable issuer.”
Ukraine, which is facing a roughly $5 billion monthly gap in public finances, has relied on central bank funding and depleted its foreign-currency reserves during the nearly six-month-old conflict. Its economy could shrink by a third this year as tens of thousands of people have been killed and numerous factories destroyed or taken over by Russian forces.
The bondholder agreement was announced a day after the government said it won consent from creditors to amend the terms of $3.2-billion in so-called GDP warrants, debt instruments linked to the country’s economic growth. Separately, Ukraine’s road agency Ukravtodor and power grid NPC Ukrenergo on Wednesday also received approvals from their bondholders for similar debt restructuring deals.
Ukraine’s wide-ranging restructuring talks have generally benefited from international goodwill toward the war-torn country, but hit a snag over a debt-freeze plan for gas group NJSC Naftogaz Ukrainy. The company’s bondholders have until Aug. 12 to vote on the latest proposal.
Ukraine’s dollar bonds due in 2033 rose about half a cent on Wednesday to near 19 cents on the dollar, compared with about 80 cents before Russia’s invasion in February. They traded above par as recently as in November.
(Adds Ukrainian Finance Ministry’s quote in the fourth paragraph.)
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