Serb Lawmakers Clear Gas Monopoly’s $243 Million Borrowing

Serbian lawmakers approved guarantees that allow Srbijagas JP, the natural-gas monopoly, to borrow 190 million euros ($242.6 million) from seven banks and cover some of last year’s debts.

Deutsche Bank AG and Amsterdam Trade Bank NV will together provide 70 million euros. Belgrade-based Volksbank AD will lend 70 million euros, Serbian units of Hungary’s OTP Bank Plc, Societe Generale SA and UniCredit SpA will put up 10 million euros each and Vojvodjanska Banka AD, a member of Greece’s National Bank of Greece SA, will provide 20 million euros.

The borrowing through so-called “euro-indexed loans” is “supportive of the dinar” because the lenders must sell euros for dinars, said Ratko Guduric, the deputy head of treasury at Vojvodjanska Banka AD in Belgrade.

The dinar traded at 112.6690 to the euro at 12:27 p.m. in Belgrade, or 0.53 percent up on the day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The loan is part of what the state-owned company plans to raise by the end of 2012, its general manager Dusan Bajatovic told lawmakers on Nov. 6.

“There will be another credit line worth 170 million euros” to cover this year’s debts, Bajatovic said.

Srbijagas owed more than 60 billion dinars ($678.98 million) to banks at the end of 2011, of which two-thirds were already long-term loans. The new, five-year loans come with a one-year grace period and quarterly debt repayments. The cost of new borrowing ranges from 5.98 percent and 7.25 percent on top of a three-month Euribor.

Russia Gas

The company sells gas at prices below those paid to buy the gas from Russia.

Srbijagas claims 150 million euros from heating plants and another 400 million euros from industrial consumers for delivered gas and pins hopes on a 10 percent price increase in 2013 and cheaper gas imports to boost its finances, Bajatovic said.

Talks are under way to try to lower import prices to $360 from $420 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas.

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