November 10, 2017 / 4:00 PM / 2 years ago

Russian retailer M.Video in preliminary talks with Alibaba: spokesman

A woman walks in front of a store of Russia's biggest electrical and white goods retailer in Moscow, Russia April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s largest electronics retailer M.Video is in preliminary talks with Chinese online retail giant Alibaba about possible cooperation, an M.Video spokesman said on Friday.

The spokesman, in written comments, did not offer any further details about what form the cooperation could take. A representative of the Russian office of AliExpress, a division of Alibaba, declined to comment.

Russia’s RBC media outlet, citing two sources familiar with the talks, said the options under discussion included Alibaba taking an equity stake in M.Video, or the two companies setting up a joint venture.

M.Video is majority-owned by Safmar Group, a conglomerate controlled by Russian billionaire Mikhail Gutseriev and his family.

Another of the Gutseriev family assets, B&N Bank, was in September forced into a central bank bailout and is now under temporary administration.

The central bank has said it is seeking assets from B&N Bank’s shareholders to help fill a gap in the lender’s balance sheet.

The Gutseriev family has promised to transfer assets worth more than 300 billion rubles ($5.2 billion) to its banking group.

Reporting by Olga Sichkar; Writing by Polina Nikolskaya and Christian Lowe; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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