August 21, 2017 / 11:51 AM / 10 months ago

Russia's Safmar considers capital boost for B&N bank, asset sales: CEO

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Safmar group, which manages the assets of Russian billionaire Mikhail Gutseriyev and his family, is considering a capital injection at its B&N bank unit, Safmar Chief Executive Avet Mirakyan told Reuters.

Avet Mirakyan, Chief Executive of Safmar Group, poses for a picture during an interview in Moscow, Russia August 14, 2017. Picture taken August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

B&N, Russia’s 12th biggest lender by assets, is one of the banks which, according to ratings agency Fitch, has seen a decline in liquidity after the winding up last month of another bank, Yugra, which fueled investor worries about the sector.

In an interview, Mirakyan said B&N bank may get a capital boost of 15 billion roubles ($254 million) by year end, though he said the figures may change. He said Safmar and Gutseriyev himself are in permanent contact with the central bank.

Russian private banks are under pressure from a purge of the sector by the central bank.

“B&N bank passed through more than one crisis and is firmly on its feet,” Mirakyan said. “I don’t want to put on rose-tinted glasses and say that everything is perfect ... Risks in the banking sector are quite high today. The same as all players, we have good and problematic assets in our (banking) portfolio, we continue to work with them.”

Aside from B&N, Safmar may list or sell some of its assets, Mirakyan said. With more than 2 trillion roubles ($34 billion) in assets under management, the group has been actively growing in the past couple of years, but was now looking to consolidate.

“In general, the same as any other business, we don’t have assets we want to be sitting in forever. If we see a good opportunity to exit from an asset, we will consider it,” he said.

In particular, Safmar - an umbrella for assets ranging from oil and coal to financial services - is looking at the possibility of listing its hotel business, which includes pricey hotels in the heart of Moscow.

Assets such as Russian coal and real estate developer A101 could also be floated on the stock market, Mirakyan said, adding: “We also consider the possibility of selling a number of non-core assets ... for example in real estate we are ready to look at the sale option or attracting a strategic investor.”

Safmar holds a number of large assets in real estate and property development, including Mospromstroy and Inteko as well as A101. Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank and one of the largest creditors to Safmar, holds a 7.5 percent in Inteko.

Mirakyan said the group’s interest payments dictated some disposals to reduce the size of its borrowings, though he did not say how big the debts are.

“Its clear that the current debt burden requires certain steps from shareholders to lower interest (payments) on the expensive borrowings, in particular, in the real estate and development (business) via possible asset sales,” Mirakyan said.

Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by David Holmes

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