Seeking to tap into the growing business of issuing short-term debt for emerging-market customers, Chase Manhattan Corp. is arranging its first such commercial paper program for a Russian bank.
Chase confirmed that it is now syndicating a $50 million program for Moscow-based InkomBank, one of Russia's largest privately held banks, with $5.1 billion of assets.
The Russian commercial paper deal is the latest by Chase, which is hoping to duplicate BankAmerica Corp.'s success in arranging U.S. commercial paper programs for borrowers in Latin America and other emerging markets.
BankAmerica began the first commercial paper program in Russia for Alfa Bank last year. Chase has been steadily making inroads into the commercial paper market for Latin American companies such as Brazil's Unibanco and Petrobras.
InkomBank is considered a highly speculative investment with a significant amount of credit risk. The bank carries a B-plus long-term debt rating from Standard & Poor's and a long-term BB rating and short-term rating of B from Fitch IBCA. Both ratings are below investment grade, meaning InkomBank must pay a fairly high yield on its borrowings.
In a meeting with reporters in New York this week, Vladimir V. Vinogradov, InkomBank's president, said he expected Chase to complete the U.S. commercial paper program by mid-June.
InkomBank, which plans to use the funding for trade-related financing, is hoping to raise $75 million to $100 million. In a similar move, the Russian bank plans to issue about $200 million of three- to five-year bonds on the Euromarkets this year.
InkomBank has 120 branches, agencies, and offices across Russia, plus several international units.
The bank disclosed this year that it is talking to a U.S. bank and several European financial companies about selling a 10% stake.
Mr. Vinogradov declined to identify the institutions involved but said he is looking for a strategic partner who can help develop both retail and investment banking as well as off-balance-sheet activities including derivatives and letters of credit. He added that the bank's goal is to obtain 50% of total earnings from retail activities while reducing its reliance on lending to large companies.
The move by InkomBank to sell part of itself is part of an effort to strengthen its capital by $160 million to $180 million.
InkomBank sold a 2.38% stake this year to the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for $6.6 million and took out a $70 million loan, convertible into 10% of InkomBank's shares.
InkomBank had $41 million of net profits last year and said it expects its net to reach $50 million this year despite turbulent conditions in Russian financial markets.
Loan spreads have come under increasing pressure in Russia as a result of a sharp rise in interest rates since last year.