27 March 2015

Ecuador Discloses Loans From Wall Street, China as Oil Sinks

By Nathan Gill
(Bloomberg) -- Ecuador got $924 million in previously undisclosed loans from Deutsche Bank AG and other lenders, showing the extent of President Rafael Correa’s effort to line up a record amount of financing as oil prices plunge.

The country took $181 million in two separate loans from units of Deutsche Bank and obtained $125 million from the European Investment Bank, according to a prospectus prepared before the government sold bonds this month that was reviewed by Bloomberg News. Ecuador also got financing from Bank of China Ltd. and a Chinese state oil company, the document shows.

The 50 percent drop in oil prices over the past 12 months has pushed the Andean nation’s financing needs to a record $10.5 billion this year, prompting Correa to court banks, international debt investors and foreign governments to make ends meet. Last week the country sold $750 million of bonds with a 10.5 percent interest rate, the highest for any major dollar-bond sale this year.

Ecuador Finance Minister Fausto Herrera was out of the country and unable to respond to questions, and no one else was available to comment, according to the ministry’s press office.

Credit Facility

The Economic Policy Ministry didn’t respond to telephone messages and e-mailed requests for comment on the loans and the government’s 2015 financing needs. Deutsche Bank declined to comment. The European Investment Bank’s press office didn’t reply to an e-mailed request for comment, and calls to China’s embassy in Quito went unanswered.

Included in the newly disclosed financing was a $218 million credit facility agreement with the Bank of China in November. The Deutsche Bank loans were in November and February. The European Investment Bank loan came in December.

The government also said it received $2.4 billion in loans from Unipec Asia Co., a unit of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., in May 2014. Last year, Ecuador had put the size of the loans at $2 billion.

Yields on Ecuador’s benchmark dollar bonds sold last week have dropped 0.13 percentage point since trading began to 10.37 percent as of 12:12 p.m. in New York. That compares with the 9.77 percent that the nation’s longer-maturity debt due in 2024 yields, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Oil Decline

The extra loans still aren’t enough to offset the decline in oil prices and a slowdown in Chinese lending, Edward Glossop, an emerging-market economist at Capital Economics in London, said in a telephone interview. The government will need more money in the second half of the year if it wants to maintain current spending levels, he said.

A promised $1.5 billion loan from China that was expected to be disbursed in February has already been delayed twice and is now expected to be disbursed in April, Herrera said March 23. The loan amount has risen and is now expected to be $2 billion, he said.

“These kind of piecemeal arrangements of financing from here and there are only going to take them so far,” Glossop said. “It’s not going to change the fact that they can’t sustain this level of spending.”