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Australian cycling shaken up, gets A$2 million loan

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Cash-strapped national governing body Cycling Australia has had a board shake-out and will receive a A$2 million (US$1.81 million) loan to help lift the sport out of its financial struggles, officials said on Tuesday.

Outgoing president Gerry Ryan, owner of pro cycling team Orica-Greenedge, will step aside for Malcolm Speed, a veteran Australian sports administrator and former boss of the International Cricket Council who will lead a seven-person board from Friday.

The Australian Sports Commission, the agency in charge of channeling government funding into national sports, will kick in A$1.5 million of the loan, with the rest to come from state member associations and Mountain Bike Australia, the ASC said.

“The ASC undertook an independent and rigorous financial analysis of CA including assessment of the various options available,” ASC president John Wylie said.

“After much consideration, the ASC determined that the most effective way of protecting the sport’s strongest assets – its high performance athletes and mass public appeal – was to grant the existing organization a loan on the condition it continues its reform agenda.

“The interest-bearing loan has been provided with a strict set of conditions, including the co-contribution by the sport’s member states, complete governance overhaul, and ongoing financial oversight of the high performance program by the AIS.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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Cyprus loan bid at "political level" with Russia

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus has applied on a political level for a bilateral loan from Russia, a senior Cypriot source said on Thursday, after a Russian official said no formal request for aid had been made.

Cash-strapped Cyprus needs the equivalent of 10 percent of its GDP to bail out its second-largest bank by June 30, with its financing options being either a European Union bailout, a Russian loan or a combination of the two.

“A political approach was made (to Russia) and we are expecting a response,” the Cypriot official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told reporters earlier Russia had not received any requests for financial help from Cyprus, which hosts hundreds of Russian firms and banks.

“We have applied on a political level…an application has been made, no doubt about it,” the official said, declining to comment further.

Cyprus, with a GDP worth about 17.5 billion euros, must find 1.8 billion euros — cash it doesn’t have — to recapitalise Cypriot lender Cyprus Popular by the end of next week.

It has shown a reluctance to borrow from the EU bailout fund, the EFSF, for fear of strings attached and potentially unpopular fiscal austerity eight months before a general election.

Russia lent Cyprus 2.5 billion euros in 2011.

Popular took a heavy 2.3 billion euro loss on the write-down in the value of Greek bonds in its portfolio, depleting its regulatory capital. Unless it finds the funds privately, the state must step in.

Cyprus was blocked out of international capital markets when yields on its benchmark bonds climbed to unaffordable levels in May 2011. The yield on its 10 year benchmark was quoted at 15.86 percent on Thursday.

(Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)