Belarus Taps Russian Debt Market After a Decade

A 10 billion ruble ($157.26 million) bond issue was placed by Belarus on the Russian market on Tuesday with demand exceeding 45 billion roubles, according to the vice president of Russia’s Gazprombank, one of the placement’s organizers.

The country placed two issues of non-convertible interest-bearing series 3 and 4 bonds with a nominal value of 5 billion roubles each, each with a maturity of 3 years, Interfax reported.

The last time Belarus placed bonds on the Russian market was in 2010. Ruble-denominated bond placements are aimed at diversifying Belarus’ portfolio of borrowings, the Belarusian finance ministry said on Tuesday, according to Interfax news agency.

Russia’s neighbor and one of Moscow’s closest allies, Belarus has relied on direct loans from Moscow in the past. The two countries also share a special arrangement on oil, garnering additional revenues for Belarus’ state budget.
Russian banks and investment firms were among over 60 applications received from investors, Gazprombank’s Denis Shulakov said. Foreign investors were also involved in the transaction, he added.

“The offering established a market benchmark in the Russian market in Russian roubles for both the subsequent offering of bonds of the Republic of Belarus, as well as the possible placements of other foreign sovereign and corporate issuers,” Shulakov said.

“The equivalent US dollar coupon yield of 8.65% in rubles for three years implies a discount to the U.S. dollar curve of Eurobonds of the Republic of Belarus in terms of Z-spread of about 30 (basis points),” Shulakov said.

Belarus’ gold and foreign currency reserves stood at $8.291 billion on July 1, according to central bank data.