Russian giant Alrosa, one of the world’s largest diamond miners, announced on Monday that it could not pay a debt maturity worth $11.6 million due to sanctions, according to the Interfax agency.
The set of punitive measures, imposed by the United Kingdom and then by the United States, makes it technically impossible to repay this debt, Alrosa told the Russian news agency. The group did not specify whether it would repay in rubles or not at all, but, in any case, exposes itself to a default.
Alrosa was due to pay a coupon (interest) on Saturday on a bond maturing in 2024 in the amount of $11.6 million. A maturity falling on a non-business day is traditionally postponed to the next business day, so last Monday. The group’s share price had lost 13% on Friday on the Moscow Stock Exchange after the announcement of new sanctions.
On April 5, before the US blocking sanctions, the group had indicated “to take measures to make payments” by submitting requests to its British bank and its American subsidiary, among others.
The group based in Yakutia, Eastern Siberia, had seen its net profit triple to 91.3 billion rubles in 2021, a year of recovery after the collapse in 2020 caused by the pandemic.
The group’s current difficulties are being closely watched in India, where much of Russia’s rough diamond cutting is done. More than a default by the Russian state, it is cascading defaults by Russian companies that could seriously disrupt the market. On Thursday, Russian Railways (RZD) said it was unable to repay $605 million on time, with Moscow assuring that the group would repay in rubles.
If a company is declared to be in default, it risks having its assets seized abroad.
On Monday, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said a special commission had been set up to help Russian companies pay their debts, giving priority to Russian creditors.