UPDATE 1-Russia's Mechel calls for debt claim relief extension

(Adds Gazprombank and VTB comment, context)

MOSCOW, April 1 (Reuters) – Russian steel and coal producer Mechel has asked its creditors to extend a debt claim relief deal, adding on Wednesday that lengthy restructuring talks were nearing an end.

Mechel, which has been engaged in the talks since last year, could be asked to make repayments of up to 373.3 billion roubles ($4.73 billion), company data from the end of 2019 showed.

The company agreed this year with its main creditors, Gazprombank and VTB, that they would not demand any early repayments but these debt claim relief deals were due to expire on April 1 and March 31.

“Mechel has approached the banks with an offer to extend the waivers until the implementation of its restructuring, and discussions about this (restructuring) are currently in their final stages,” a company representative told Reuters.

Gazprombank said it was ready to extend the waiver by one more month, its deputy chairman, Tigran Khachaturov, said.

“We plan to give Mechel the chance to reach an agreement with all sides,” Khachaturov said in a statement.

VTB said it was considering a request from Mechel, which last year said that it would be unable to begin debt repayments in 2020 and entered a fresh round of talks with creditors.

Mechel confirmed in March that it was in talks to sell its Elga coal project, one of the world’s biggest coking coal deposits, as part of the latest round of talks. ($1 = 78.8550 roubles) (Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Anastasia Lyrchikova Writing by Polina Ivanova Editing by David Goodman and Alexander Smith)

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