Gunvor signs US$600mn one-year loan

Published: July 7, 2009

Gunvor International, an independent oil trader headquartered in Amsterdam, has signed a revolving one-year credit facility of US$600mn, successfully refinancing and extending last year’s debut of US$370mn.

As in the oversubscribed 2008 debut, this year’s refinancing also attracted significant interest from banks, and original plans for a US$450mn facility were extended by an additional US$150mn.

Gunvor is the third largest crude oil trading company in the world and was co-founded by Russian businessman Gennady Timchenko in 1997, whose personal fortune has been estimated by Forbes as US$2.5bn.  

Timchenko has long been linked to Russian president Vladimir Putin – the two have known each other since Putin's days as deputy mayor of St Petersburg – and some analysts suggest Gunvor's rapid growth is thanks to the two's relationship.

However, Timchenko insists that Gunvor's remarkable rise to global prominence in the last five years is thanks to the company's superior logistics and business acumen, rather than any political favours.  

A total of 17 banks provided funds, made up of all existing lenders and a number of new ones not participating in last year’s facility. The consortium of banks was headed by BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse, this time joined as bookrunners by others who were among the arrangers of last year’s loans: Fortis Bank (Netherland), ING Bank, Rabobank International, Société Générale and Crédit Agricole (Suisse).

A Gunvor spokesman commented: “This is the first time Gunvor has refinanced a syndicated loan and we are encouraged by the support shown to the company, particularly given current market conditions. The banks’ commitment is indicative of the trust they have in our business and confidence in our future growth plans. Gunvor has enjoyed rapid growth over the past decade, and we have plans to ensure continued expansion in existing and new markets.”

The funds available will be drawn down for use as working capital and as a reserve for margin calls.

The banks acting as arrangers are: Natixis, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (London), Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich, DBS Bank (London Branch), Deutsche Bank (Amsterdam Branch), BHF-Bank, Banque Cantonale de Genève and Union de Banques Arabes et Françaises.