August 31, 2018 / 2:01 PM / 25 days ago

Russia's Gazprom says takes pause on external debt market over legal risks

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said on Friday it was taking a pause in using some of its debt tools but the gas giant said it had not suspended its loans programme and still had access to private loans.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks near the headquarters of Russian gas giant Gazprom during an annual general meeting of the company's shareholders in Moscow, Russia, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

Gazprom suspended its external borrowing programme this year because of a deepening legal dispute with Ukraine’s Naftogaz over gas supplies, banking sources said this month. A London court in June froze the firm’s assets in Britain at the request of Naftogaz.

Gazprom’s original plan had been to borrow 417 billion roubles (5.07 billion pounds) externally this year.

“We are seeing some increase in risks on the money market related to money transfers via the Great Britain territory ... We took a pause in some tools,” Alexander Ivannikov, the head of company’s financial department, told a conference call for investors and analysts.

He also said a British court will hold hearings on Sept. 4-5 regarding moves by Naftogaz to freeze Gazprom’s assets.

Ivannikov did not rule out the possibility of raising dividends on 2018 results, however he said it would be more realistic to expect that after 2020 once the current investment cycle is over.

Gazprom is engaged in multi-billion projects such as Nord Stream-2, TurkStream and Power of Siberia pipelines.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Olesya Astakhova; Writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by David Evans

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