Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Belarus gearing up for $1 billion bond deal

By Marc Jones, Reuters / dailymail.co.uk

Belarus hopes to sell $1 billion of bonds at yields under 7 percent, the country's deputy finance minister said on Thursday, and is just waiting for the right time.

The Belarus economy has slumped over the last two years and the government is about to hold talks on a $3 billion support programme with the International Monetary Fund.

Although it is trying to reduce its debt, Belarus is considering a bond issue to bolster its finances and ensure its capital markets do not wither as the 2018 payment date of its current benchmark bond approaches.

"We don't have any obstacles to start the process, but it depends on the market and the appetite of investors," the country's deputy finance minister, Maksim Yermalovich, told Reuters at the EBRD's annual meeting in London.

"$1 billion is a good amount for us," he said. "$1 billion is understandable for the market. It's a beautiful number."

The timing is still to be determined. The timing of any agreement with the IMF is uncertain. On the other hand, Belarus is now benefiting from Russia's freeze on foreign currency debt, which is pushing the usual Russian buyers toward Belarus.

Minsk's current bonds are trading at around 7 percent, well below the official interest rate of 22 percent. Yermalovich said the price had to be right, "but it's business and of course the expectations of our investors are around this current level of 7 percent." (Reporting by Marc Jones, editing by Larry King)