Emerging-market investment bankers have been tramping the corridors of power in Kiev ever since Ukraine showed signs of shrugging off its economic torpor in 2000. Bond investors are now following. Nick Parsons reports.
THE BOOK-RUNNERS had two goals: to bring Ukraine back into the international capital markets and to position themselves for other lucrative mandates. The result was that early in June 2003, Ukraine launched its first new benchmark offering since the 1998 Russian crisis. Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, JPMorgan and UBS steered the borrower to an $800 million 10-year bond issue. In September the trio led a $200 million tap.
"It showed that investors were absolutely happy with the credit risk," says first deputy prime minister and minister of finance Mykola Azorov. "We were looking at raising $800 million and on the roadshow had many negotiations with bankers and the book reached $5 billion."
A number of factors made the timing right this summer. The country's economic growth was better than expected. The rating agencies were generally approving. In 2002, a couple of reopenings of Ukraine's restructured 2007 bonds had stoked up some interest among investors for the credit. And, perhaps most significantly, Russia was one of the year's star performers in the international bond markets.
The $1 billion bond has now become one of the benchmark issues in the region and Ukraine is now one of the prime accounts.