Russia's No.2 lender VTB to buy rescued Otkritie Bank for $4.7 bln
- Russia's central bank sells Otkritie to VTB for $4.7 bln
- Cash and debt deal expected to close by Dec. 31
- Central bank had bailed out Otkritie in 2017
- VTB shares rise around 3% on the news
- This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine
MOSCOW, Dec 22 (Reuters) - The Bank of Russia on Thursday agreed to sell bailed-out Otkritie Bank to the country's No.2 lender, state-owned VTB (VTBR.MM), for 340 billion roubles ($4.7 billion), in a deal expected to close by the end of the year.
The transaction consists of 233 billion roubles in cash and the remainder in OFZ treasury bonds, the central bank said. VTB's Moscow-listed shares were up 2.8% as of 1155 GMT.
The central bank bailed out Otkritie, once Russia's largest private lender, in 2017 as part of a years-long campaign to clean up the country's banking sector.
Otkritie had previously been linked with a possible sale to Italy's UniCredit or even a public stock market launch before sanctions torpedoed plans for anything more than a domestic transaction.
The central bank and VTB said in separate statements they had agreed to transfer all the shares in Otkritie by Dec. 31, subject to VTB paying in full.
While dominant lender Sberbank (SBER.MM) has turned a monthly profit this quarter, VTB, which has fallen under some of the toughest sanctions imposed by the West on Russia's financial sector, is struggling, something that had raised doubts about the long-awaited Otkritie purchase.
"VTB appears to be experiencing specific capital problems," Alfa Bank senior analyst Evgeniy Kipnis told Reuters. "Based on recent statements from VTB Bank's CEO, due to sanctions, the bank has frozen assets abroad worth around 600 billion roubles."
"That is 27% of the bank's capital," Kipnis said. "It is obvious that the bank needs additional capital in connection with this."
Earlier this month, VTB said it had temporarily suspended coupon payments on a number of subordinated bond issues, a move approved by the central bank.
CONFLICT OF INTERESTS RESOLVED
The central bank had been keen to sell. Governor Elvira Nabiullina said last Friday it was not normal for the regulator to also own a bank.
"This deal will ensure the development of the banking sector without the involvement of the central bank as owner," Nabiullina said.
The central bank said its bail-out investment was 555 billion roubles and that the deal, taking into account dividends, would give it a refund of 352 billion roubles.
VTB said nothing would change for Otkritie clients in the near future and that it would develop a plan to integrate Otkritie's business after the transaction closes.
"Independent assessor DRT assessed (Otkritie's shares') market value in the range of 328-374 billion roubles," the central bank said.
Otkritie and its group of companies have previously been valued at up to 400 billion roubles.
VTB said Otkritie President Mikhail Zadornov would leave the company on Jan. 1. Former UniCredit Bank Russia chairman Mikhail Alekseev will be nominated in his stead.
($1 = 72.3200 roubles)
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