As Russia risks default, the country sends an order for coupon payments

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk past the Russian Treasury Ministry building in Moscow
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk past the building of the Ministry of Finance of Russia in Moscow, Russia, March 30, 2021. A sign reads ‘Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation’. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

March 15, 2022

(Reuters) – Russia’s Treasury Ministry said on Monday it had sent an instruction to a correspondent bank to pay coupons on $117.2 million of Eurobonds, a signal to markets waiting to see if Russia will pay its will not pay off national debts.

The eurobonds in question, which mature in 2023 and 2043, both last traded at 20 cents on the dollar or below and are among the first to have scheduled payments after Russia was hit by sanctions related to its invasion of Ukraine.

Because of the restrictions, it was unclear whether Russia would be able or willing to make the payments.

“This week, on Wednesday, we will pay back another Eurobond coupon,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told state television on Monday. “And today, Monday, we have prepared a foreign currency payment slip and will issue an order to foreign banks to carry out this payment. We will keep an eye on this payment slip and monitor how the banks execute our (payment) orders.”

The Treasury said payments would be made in rubles if sanctions prevent banks from paying off debts in the issuing currency.

Reuters could not immediately confirm to bondholders that the payment was underway.

Russia has 15 international bonds outstanding with a face value of around $40 billion. Around half of the bonds are held by foreign investors.

Trading in Russian assets has all but ground to a halt on exchanges outside of Moscow.

Russia’s last major external debt default was more than a century ago, when the Bolsheviks failed to recognize the Tsarist debt after the 1917 revolution.

(Reuters report) As Russia risks default, the country sends an order for coupon payments


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