LONDON Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI) has launched the process to syndicate a loan it provided to Glencore (GLEN.L) and a Qatari sovereign wealth fund for their purchase of a 19.5 percent stake in Russia's Rosneft (ROSN.MM), banking sources said on Thursday.
Intesa provided a 5.2 billion euro ($5.83 billion) loan to Glencore and the Qatar Investment Authority late last year, and the Italian bank is now trying to spread its risk.
The process has been launched with a "limited group of banks," one banker said. It is unclear at this stage whether or not the deal will be syndicated beyond this group.
"It is a complicated deal and not everyone will have the appetite for it," the banker said.
Two sources said the syndication had gone out to 15 banks, with no Russian lenders involved.
The head of Intesa's Russian business, Antonio Fallico, said in February it was speaking with 14 banks about syndicating the loan, with the aim of choosing two or three to take on 2.5-3 billion euros of the debt.
A spokesman for Intesa declined to comment.
The Italian government approved the 5.2 billion euro loan on March 20. The deal was subject to regulatory scrutiny due to the size of the loan and its potential for entanglement in EU sanctions on Russia.
Russian energy giant Rosneft, its boss Igor Sechin and Russia’s top state banks are all subject to sanctions imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and some banks refused to consider the deal on these grounds.
“There is no way we would look at this deal, it is just not possible for us to do it, it would not get past our compliance team,” a second banker said.
The fact the original 5.2 billion euro loan has not been affected by sanctions issues in the last five months should give banks some comfort, a third banker said.
“The (5.2 billion euro) deal has not been derailed by any issues around sanctions. This syndication is even more remote from any potential problem,” he said.
Information provided to the banks in the syndication process specifies the deal does not contravene sanctions, the first banker said.
“The deal will move forward, banks will need to do some work on it,” he added.
($1 = 0.8919 euros)
(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov, Sandrine Bradley and Tessa Walsh; Writing by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Simon Jessop and Mark Potter)