September 20, 2017 / 4:55 PM / a year ago

Russia's Lukoil has no desire to return to banking: VP Fedun

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian oil producer Lukoil (LKOH.MM) has no desire to return to banking after its executives face potential losses following the bail-out of private lender Otkritie, Lukoil vice-president Leonid Fedun told Reuters.

Fedun and his boss, Lukoil Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov, are shareholders in Otkritie, which became one of Russia’s biggest ever banking bail-outs last month when it was taken over by the central bank.

Fedun and Alekperov became Otkritie shareholders three years ago when a Lukoil-linked company sold Petrocommerce bank to Otkritie.

“We got rid of Petrocommerce as we did not want to deal with non-core businesses,” Fedun told the Reuters Russia Investment Summit on Wednesday. “We were step-by-step getting rid of our financial business which was a remnant of the 1990s when it was essential to do it.”

“So there is neither the desire nor the skills to return to it.”

The central bank said last month that Otkritie’s problems were caused by a number of factors, including a too risky business model. An attempt by its shareholders to buy insurance company Rosgosstrakh was the final straw that took Otkritie, Russia’s biggest private lender, to the brink.

“When you have such a minority stake, you can’t influence anything,” Fedun said. “According to audit reports, which we were getting via the board of directors, we did not see major problems. (But) I was very skeptical about purchasing Rosgosstrakh.”

Under the bailout scheme the central bank will take over at least a 75 percent stake in Otkritie and may increase it to 100 percent if Otkritie’s financial position proves worse than anticipated.

Fedun declined to estimate the losses he and Alekperov would face if the central bank writes down the holdings of Otkritie’s current shareholders, which also include Russian state bank VTB (VTBR.MM) and Otkritie executives.

“The scheme proposed by the central bank, via the fund for consolidation of the banking sector... is the less painful decision for depositors and I am a large Otkritie depositor - almost all my funds are there,” Fedun said.

The central bank has said it would not use a bail-in scheme for Otkritie - which would have seen the bank’s depositors become shareholders - a decision that eased worries among the bank’s clients and stopped a massive run on deposits.

Follow Reuters Summits on Twitter @Reuters_Summits

Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Susan Fenton

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