MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s second-largest bank VTB (VTBR.MM) said it was in talks to sell its stake of around 10 percent in Societe Generale’s (SOGN.PA) Russian unit Rosbank, with the French parent seen as the likely buyer.
State-controlled VTB, which bought into Rosbank in 2010, made the statement a week after Rosbank Chief Executive Vladimir Golubkov was charged with bribery.
SocGen said on Wednesday it would fire Golubkov.
“We are in talks about exiting Rosbank,” VTB said in an emailed statement. “This is not a strategic investment for VTB. However, the terms and conditions of any deal will depend on market conditions.”
Rosbank is 82 percent owned by SocGen, which first bought into the bank in 2006. VTB and metals tycoon Vladimir Potanin, who with former partner Mikhail Prokhorov used to own Rosbank, hold the remainder.
Analysts said VTB’s stake could be worth around $300 million.
“The most likely buyer of this stake would be SocGen,” said Andrey Klapko, banking analyst at Gazprombank. “I don’t see anyone else on the horizon who would be interested in a minority stake.”
A source at Potanin’s Interros said it was not considering buying VTB’s stake.
Ivan Kachkovski, an analyst at brokerage Aton, said in an email: “SocGen is the only logical destination for VTB’s stake in Rosbank”.
Klapko said it would be a challenge to sell the stake above its book value of around $350 million and saw a range of $280 million to $310 million as realistic.
Rosbank, Russia’s ninth-largest bank by assets, made a small loss last year and gave up market share to faster-growing competitors.
Russian daily Kommersant earlier reported VTB may part with the stake by the end of the year. VTB CEO Andrei Kostin had said earlier this week he was not interested in increasing his bank’s stake in Rosbank.
VTB said in Thursday’s statement that Rosbank is a ”sound financial institution“ and that problems around ”particular individuals will not influence the reputation and stability of the bank as a whole.
“However, it would be premature for us to comment further on the situation ... as no-one has been found guilty in a court of law,” it said.
VTB held talks with SocGen about selling the stake in December 2010, a source quoted VTB Chief Executive Andrei Kostin as saying at the time.
VTB previously said it was looking to sell non-core assets. It has said it aims to cut its holding in the Russian unit of mobile phone company Tele2 (TEL2b.ST) below a controlling stake in the coming year.
SocGen, Rosbank and Interros declined comment.
($1 = 31.2910 Russian roubles)
Reporting by Megan Davies; Additional reporting by Polina Devitt in Moscow and Christian Plumb in Paris; Editing by Douglas Busvine and David Holmes