* VTB eyes options to expand Russian grain export capacity
* Bank may sell grain business stake in December - Interfax (Adds background, asset purchases)
MOSCOW, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Russia’s VTB, which aims to become a national grains champion, may team up with a global trader to sell Russian grain directly to end consumers, a senior executive told Reuters.
Acquisitions by the state-controlled bank in 2019 made it the largest operator of Russia’s grain export infrastructure and a grain trader. It is in talks to buy more assets.
“We are also considering a partnership with an international trader in order to sell Russian grain abroad directly to the final buyer,” Yuri Soloviev, VTB’s first deputy chief executive, said in an interview, without providing further details.
Russia’s second largest lender is also looking at options to expand grain export capacity in the Russian part of the Black and Azov Seas, especially in the Black Sea ports of Novorossiisk and Taman, Soloviev said.
VTB and Russian vegetable oil producer EFKO agreed to build a grain terminal in Taman in November. VTB is also in talks to buy half of another Taman grain terminal from Ukraine’s Kernel group. Global trader Glencore owns the rest.
VTB has previously asked President Vladimir Putin to help it create a Russian grains champion to curb the role of foreign traders and give the state greater control over exports, Reuters reported in August.
The bank could sell a stake in its grain business to an investor by the end of December but keep a controlling stake, Interfax news agency reported on Friday, also citing Soloviev.
Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, traditionally supplies grain to customers in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, all markets which VTB has said it would target. (Reporting by Tatiana Voronova; Writing by Polina Devitt; Editing by Edmund Blair)
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