Eximbank in discussions to loan ENRC $876m

09:28, October 09, 2009      

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The Kazakh company is to tap investors in China, the world's biggest metals consumer. [China Daily]

The Export-Import Bank of China, known as China Eximbank, one of the nation's major policy lenders, was reportedly in talks to fund Kazakh metals producer Eurasian Natural Resources Corp (ENRC) on an $876-million project to enhance its production capacity.

ENRC planned to draw on the fund to expand a chrome smelter and upgrade an aluminum plant, Bloomberg reported. It had asked Samruk-Kazyna, the Kazakh sovereign wealth fund, to help it find investment.

Aidan Karibzhanov, managing director of Samruk-Kazyna, said the fund managers were in discussions with China Eximbank on behalf of ENRC. The sovereign wealth fund manages the 12-percent stake that Kazakhstan held in the metals producers.

Both China Eximbank and ENRC could not be reached immediately for comment but the move showed that ENRC was keen to join other commodity producers, such as Russian aluminum maker United Co and Australian iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group, to tap investors in the world's biggest metal consumer.

China inked a $10-billion loan-for-oil deal with Kazakhstan in April. As part of the effort to expand the two countries' cooperation in energy and other sectors, China Eximbank granted a $5-billion credit line to the Development Bank of Kazakhstan in July.

ENRC said in June it held preliminary talks with investors in Abu Dhabi about finance for projects including a $910-million railway to connect its plants with China. The company pulled out of the project the following month after failing to agree with the Kazakh government over volumes and tariffs.

The metals producer needs $287 million of funds for the Pavlodar aluminum smelter, a project that will cost $498 million, Karibzhanov said in an interview last month. ENRC also requires $589 million to expand its TNK Kazchrome unit, he said.

ENRC plans to raise Pavlodar's output to 250,000 metric tons a year. It intends to complete the expansion by 2011, and finish the Kazchrome project by 2012.

The company raised $2.4 billion in a 2007 initial public offering in London. The shares have more than doubled this year in London trading, valuing the company at $18.5 billion.

Source: China Daily
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