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VTB Heads for Longest Losing Streak in 3 Months on Share Buyback

VTB Group (VTBR) headed for its worst losing streak in three months after Russia’s second-largest bank said yesterday it would cap its share buyback for investors who lost money in its 2007 initial public offering.

VTB’s shares sank 1.9 percent to 6.76 kopeks by 5:52 p.m. in Moscow, dropping for a fifth day, the longest losing streak since November.

The stock surged as much as 4.3 percent on Feb. 2 after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told the state-controlled lender to consider buying back shares from investors who participated in the bank’s 2007 initial public offering. The buyback will be capped at 500,000 rubles ($16,600) per person at the 2007 IPO price of 13.6 kopeks, VTB Chief Executive Officer Andrey Kostin said at a briefing in Moscow yesterday.

“The initial news of the buyback sparked some hype but all the speculative money swept out when the details became known,” Michael Kart, a managing partner at hedge fund firm Spectrum Partners Ltd., said by phone. “As of today, investors are building short positions in the name.” Spectrum currently holds the stock and did not take part in the IPO, according to Kart.

Kostin said the courts were unlikely to rule in favor of investors excluded from the buyback.

“Legal action by investors is possible,” Ivan Mazalov, director of Prosperity Capital Management, which manages about $4 billion in assets in Russia and former Soviet states, said by phone today. “It’s a risk when a company buys back shares well above the market price from only a certain number of investors.” Prosperity did not participate in the IPO, Mazalov said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Corcoran in Moscow at jcorcoran13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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