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In 2012 Megafon launched its program on minimization of the FX risk, which allowed the operator to save around 30 bln rubles, Gevork Vermishyan, company’s Chief Financial Officer, said to Vedomosti. According to his story, in 2015 the program helped to decrease the FX loss by 60 %, compared to 2014. The total FX loss in 2015 was 10.041 bln rubles, the operator’s records state.
Before 2012, Megafon used foreign-currency deposits as its main tool for FX risk management. As explained by Vermishyan, the company is now having 80% of its accessible assets in dollars, revaluation of which, naturally, compensates for the currency commitment revaluation. Moreover, the company started to use financial derivatives for the decrease of FX risk. At the same time, Megafon adheres to the principle of “net foreign-exchange position” minimization, Vermishyan says. In other words, the company strikes the balance between FX liabilities, which includes FX debt and currency component of operating and capital costs, and FX holdings. “If net foreign-exchange position is equal to zero, then there is no need to worry about the exchange-value of ruble and its prospects”, — thinks Vermishyan.
Vermishyan says that the main hedging instruments utilized by Megafon are plain and embedded FX swaps. “From the company’s point of view, it is the same as to go to the bank, get a loan in rubles in order to purchase dollars, and then use them to refund another loan, however, the actual ruble funding value is a lot more attractive than the available ruble financing”. Megafon believes, that the best time for swap deals are the short periods of ruble strengthening with the preservation of market volatility, which is specifically important for embedded instruments since it allows the company to reduce the rate costs of those. Since 2013 up until now, Megafon made several of such swaps — of $600M in total. By the end of 2015, the total volume of actual FX swaps was reduced almost by half — to $225M from $464M, according to the results of 2014, following the financial statements of the operator. Vermishyan refers it to the fact that in 2015, the company satisfied around $400M of payment obligations, part of which was overhedged with the help of swaps.
Megafon uses the derivatives market instruments to hedge the current capital costs, along with the FX debt. It takes place when there is a possibility for the net foreign-exchange position to “go into the red” conditioned by the coming capital investments in dollars. Vermishyan says. Moreover, with this aim in view, the operator utilizes “synthetic” hedging, achieved by means of receiving of discounts and special-purpose financing from the suppliers.
Vermishyan points out the lack of derivatives’ “flexibility”. Megafon uses them only as a means of protection from FX risk. It should be said that the company is not speculative in its actions and does not use FX fluctuation to gain profit.