UPDATE 1-Sberbank buys Yandex online payment service for $60 mln

Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:48am EST

* Deal expected to close in Q1 2013; CEO to stay on

* Sberbank has golden share in Nasdaq-listed Yandex

MOSCOW Dec 19 (Reuters) - Sberbank, Russia's top lender, will buy Yandex.Dengi, an online payment service owned by Russian search engine Yandex, for $60 million, the companies said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The companies will create a joint venture through the acquisition by Sberbank of a 75 percent interest in the charter capital of Yandex.Dengi, or Yandex.Money as it is known in English.

Evgenia Zavalishina, Yandex.Money's current chief executive officer, will head the JV, while the deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013.

Sberbank, which accounts for a third of overall lending in Russia, has been expanding in the consumer credit market amid weak corporate loan portfolio growth.

In recent years, it has launched its own credit card business and tied up with French bank BNP Paribas in a joint venture focusing on point-of-sale lending, a popular form of in-store consumer finance in Russia.

Yandex, which raised $1.4 billion when it floated on the U.S. stock market in May 2011, came under scrutiny during election protests over the past year when it was reported that Russian opposition leaders were raising funds via Yandex.Dengi.

State-controlled Sberbank acquired a golden share before they IPO by Yandex that accords it the right to veto a buyer from acquiring a stake of more than 25 percent. Sberbank has no board seats at Yandex.

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