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Ukraine's Bondholders Engage Advisors for Restructuring Talks Amid Economic Resilience

Ukraine's bondholders engage PJT and Weil for restructuring talks amid economic resilience and looming $4.5 billion bond payments.

By Mackenzie Crow

4/13, 15:14 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • Ukraine's bondholders, including Amundi and BlackRock, appoint PJT and Weil for restructuring talks as the repayment moratorium nears its September expiration.
  • Despite conflict, Ukraine's economy showed resilience with 5.3% GDP growth last year; however, S&P downgraded its credit rating to CC due to debt relief probabilities.
  • Unusual bond price movements hint at market speculations around European and American subsidies influencing Ukrainian state-owned enterprises' securities.

Debt Restructuring Talks

A consortium of Ukrainian debt holders, including prominent firms such as Amundi, BlackRock, and Amia Capital, has engaged PJT Partners Inc as a financial advisor in anticipation of potential restructuring discussions. This move comes as the moratorium on Ukraine's bond repayments, instituted in 2022 following Russia's invasion, approaches its expiration in September. Weil, Gotschal & Manges LLP has been appointed as the legal advisor for the bondholders. The country, grappling with the financial ramifications of ongoing conflict and infrastructure damage, seeks to navigate its economic challenges while maintaining constructive relations with international investors. Ukraine's debt chief, Yuriy Butsa, has expressed the necessity for additional data to inform forthcoming negotiations with eurobond holders, aiming for a resolution by September.

Economic Resilience Amid Challenges

Despite the adversities posed by the conflict, Ukraine's economy exhibited a robust performance with a 5.3% GDP growth in the previous year, a testament to what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) described as "remarkable resilience." However, the IMF also cautioned about potential economic headwinds, projecting a deceleration in growth to 3%-4% for the current year. Amid these economic fluctuations, Ukraine's GDP-linked bonds, which are contingent on the country's economic growth, have seen their value approach peak levels since the onset of the invasion. This economic backdrop sets the stage for Ukraine's ongoing discussions with its eurobond holders.

Credit Rating Downgrade

In a significant development, S&P Global Ratings downgraded Ukraine's credit rating to CC, indicating a high probability of the country seeking debt relief from its Eurobond holders. This downgrade underscores the anticipated restructuring involving commercial creditors as Ukraine continues to navigate its debt management strategy. The country faces imminent bond payments totaling $4.5 billion this year, with the creditor group having previously agreed to defer payments on official bilateral debt until the conclusion of the IMF program in 2027.

Market Speculations and Premiums

The market has observed unusual price movements in bonds issued by Ukrainian state-owned enterprises, notably Ukrenergo, which have been trading at a premium relative to comparable sovereign bonds. This phenomenon has sparked speculation regarding the potential influence of European and American subsidies intended to support Ukraine amidst the war. Questions arise about whether these premiums reflect expectations of subsidy payouts, highlighting considerations around donor intentions and Ukraine's fiscal priorities.

Management Quotes

  • Yuri Butsa, Ukraine's debt chief:

    "More data points were needed in coming months to serve as the basis for discussions with eurobond holders. He said Ukraine hoped to reach a deal by September."