LONDON, May 20 (Reuters) - Russian potash fertiliser producer Uralkali is continuing to work on a $500 million syndicated loan as Western banks pull back from lending to Russian companies as tension in the Ukraine remains high before Sunday's presidential elections.
Uralkali was talking to banks about raising its first unsecured loan in late February before Russia's annexation of the Crimea in March effectively closed the syndicated loan market.
"Uralkali continues structuring the transaction with a group of banks. Currently we are on the stage of obtaining the remaining credit approvals and have already started the documentation drafting process," said Viktor Belyakov, Uralkali CFO.
The company is still hopeful that the deal will close, although Western banks are now saying that the Russian syndicated loan market could be closed for up to a year as banks' credit committees fear the impact of current and threatened future sanctions.
"We do not expect any problems with the transaction closing as long as (the) international loan market is still open for first-class investment grade borrowers," Belyakov said. (Additional reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov)