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Banks

UPDATE 1-Russia says ready to sell VTB stake, eyes $3 bln

* Russia hopes to complete sale of stake in 2011

* May postpone deal if market price is lower

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BRUSSELS, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Russia is ready to divest a stake in state-controlled bank VTB VTBR.MM for at least $3 billion, its first deputy prime minister said on Wednesday.

Russia is seeking to raise some $59 billion through a state privatisation programme by 2015, to plug a hole in the budget and speed up growth ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

“We don’t have legal obstacles to selling (VTB) shares, and now we’ll work out with our consultants the best way to do it... whether it’s an IPO or exchange of assets or something, and the precise time to do it,” Igor Shuvalov told reporters after talks with European Commission officials on trade issues.

“We speak with different investors and I hope that the first quarter of next year we will complete the deal,” he said.

“Our position is, not less than $3 billion dollars,” he said. “If the current market price is lower, then we’ll have to postpone the deal.”

VTB is Russia’s second-biggest bank. (Reporting by Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck; editing by Andrew Roche)

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