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08/24/1998 18:00:32 Banks say no agreement on Russia creditors club

MOSCOW, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Three Western bankers said on

Monday there had been no decision to form a creditors club of

Russian and foreign banks at the start of September,

contradicting statements by the Russian central bank.

The central bank's spokesperson was not immediately

available to comment.

The central bank earlier said Russian banks and foreign

banks had agreed in principle to form a creditors club at the

start of September, where discussions on Russian commercial bank

debt to Western banks would take place.

"There was no such agreement," said the head of a

representative office of one bank.

Another banker said the idea of a creditors club was

mentioned by central bank First Deputy Chairman Sergei

Aleksashenko but that banks were urged more to work on a

bilateral basis to solve their problems.

"They did not ask for a vote, they did not ask for feedback

on that. The more important thing was that people should get

together separately," said the other banker.

The central bank earlier said in a statement that agreement

on forming a creditors club was made at the meeting, which

brought Russian banks and their Western lenders together.

The central bank said the Russian authorities at the meeting

said they would take no responsibility for assuming obligations

of Russian banks to lenders but were ready to take part in talks

to solve the repayments problem on "market principles".

"At the same time representatives of the central bank

requested Western creditors to hold back from unilateral

'forceful' measures against Russian banks such as freezing

accounts, not fulfilling commissions or blocking current

operations," the central bank added.

Rating agency Fitch-IBCA last week said that Russian banks

owed around $1.0 billion in foreign currency debt, of which

about one quarter fell due in the next three months.

The moratorium covered principal on foreign credits for more

than 180 days but did not cover Russian sovereign debt.

--Patrick Lannin, Moscow Newsroom, +7095 941-8520


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