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Ukraine's opportunistic debut

Issuer: Republic of Ukraine

Amount: $450 million

Launched: August 11

Lead manager: Nomura

Investment bankers rejoiced in the middle of August when Ukraine broke the summer lull in the Euromarkets with the launch of its first international bond issue. Ukrainian teachers too: part of the $450 million proceeds was used to pay off teachers' wage arrears, averting a strike that would have delayed the beginning of the autumn term.

Most features of Ukraine's path to the Euromarkets have been unusual. The Eurobond has been postponed and rethought several times since the country began talking in earnest with investment bankers last summer. For the past year, Ukraine had been planning to launch two benchmark bonds simultaneously in the international markets. One would be a Eurobond, denominated in dollars or Deutschmarks; the other a samurai in the Japanese domestic market.

Ukrainian foreign borrowing officials looked on enviously in November 1996 when Russia raised $1 billion of five-year debt at a very tight rate. The Ukrainians resolved to copy the systematic approach Russia took to prepare its debut Eurobond - hiring a ratings adviser and travelling on a roadshow - but they believed they could do it even better.

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