London — The Republic of the Congo is set to become the latest African country to start debt-relief talks with trading houses after borrowing $2bn from merchants, such as Trafigura and Glencore, but now find its debt levels unsustainable, sources familiar with the matter said. Trading houses regularly lend money to resource-rich clients in financial distress — be it countries such as the Congo, Chad, Morocco or Iraq’s Kurdistan region — when other lenders walk away. But traders often charge heavy interest on loans and require access to resources. The Congo has recently appointed investment bank Lazard as an advisor to help it renegotiate debts with the traders, three banking and oil industry sources said. Lazard declined to comment. The move is similar to Chad, which has appointed Rothschild as an advisor in talks with Glencore and four bank lenders. Chad borrowed $1.45bn from Glencore, guaranteed by crude cargoes at a time of high oil prices. The central African country was forced ...

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