LONDON -- BankAmerica Corp. has been recruited as a mediator in the international effort to help resolve the Soviet debt crisis.

The U.S. bank, part of a group of Western financial institutions in negotiations with the Soviet foreign trade bank over loan repayment, will head a new subcommittee to assess economic and technical issues involving the disintegrating union's debt position.

More Room to Maneuver

The decision came at a meeting in Frankfurt Tuesday where the banks agreed to a three-month deferral of principal payments on Soviet borrowings. The action is intended to give the Soviets more time to work out ways of resuming full debt servicing.

Soviet overseas debt totals an estimated $68 billion, about a third of which is owed to banks.

The Group of Seven industrial nations already have set a one-year deferral of principal paymetns by Moscow on intergovernmental debt. They are the Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States.

The meeting comprised the Soviet Foreign Trade Bank, Vneshekonombank, and representatives of 12 creditor banks, led by Deutsche Bank, chairman of the bank debt steering committee.

The BankAmerica officer that will chair the subcommittee is Dan McGovern, vice president in the bank's economic policy research unit.

"Our bank has had a fair amount of experience in the area of sovereign debt problems, including the arrangements for Mexico and Poland, and our expertise is being used in connection with the U.S.S.R.'s problems," a BankAmerica spokesperson said.

BankAmerica will prepare reports on the ever-shifting Soviet economic outlook at a time when various republics have achieved independence, bankers said. These reports will include projections for economic growth, exports, and balance-of-payments developments, all factors behind the ability to service debt.

"Bank of America doesn't have a significant Soviet debt involvement, and thus can be seen as a neutral observer reporting to the steering committee," one Frankfurt banker said.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank officials moved to quash Western reports that Vneshekonombank, which oversees the servicing of foreign debt, was on the verge of a liquidity crisis with only about $50 million left in working balances.

In a statement, the German bank said the Moscow-based institution had confirmed its intention to pay interest on all debt on time.

The deferral of first-quarter debt principal payments applies to medium- and long-term debt arranged before Jan. 1, 1991.

Short-term credits and securities and bonds are not included in the deferral.

A formal rescheduling of debt had not been discussed, bankers said.

Apart from Deutsche Bank and BankAmerica, institutions in the advisory committee are Creditanstalt-Bankverein, Banque Nationale de Paris, Credit Lyonnais, Commerzbank, Dresdner Bank, Banca Commerciale Italiana, Bank of Tokyo, Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, and Industrial Bank of Japan.

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