Czech Billionaire’s PPF Gets Uralkali Stake for Nomos Bank Stock

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PPF Group NV, a private-equity group held by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, swapped shares in Nomos Bank for a stake in OAO Uralkali, the biggest potash producer.

PPF received 3.44 shares in Uralkali for each one it held in Moscow-based Nomos, said Otkritie Financial Corp., which acquired 19.9 percent of the lender last week. That would give PPF about 63.3 million shares, or 2.15 percent, of Uralkali.

PPF’s exit led Fitch Ratings to lower Nomos’s credit outlook to negative and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to cut its equity recommendation to neutral on concerns that corporate governance may weaken. Otkritie said the Uralkali shares used in the swap were bought from billionaire Alexander Nesis’s ICT Group, a shareholder in Nomos.

The total transaction value was 14.1 billion rubles ($442 million), Otkritie said today in a statement. That’s 765 rubles a share for Nomos, or about $12 a global depositary receipt. PPF confirmed the swap, while saying it sold the stake based on $13.93 a GDR “at the date of the execution of the transaction.”

Nomos fell as much as 7.6 percent and traded down 2.7 percent at 754 rubles by 4:50 p.m. in Moscow. The GDRs were little changed at $11.05 in London following two days of losses from $12.62 on Aug. 8 before PPF said it was selling its stake. Uralkali gained 1.7 percent to $41.21 in London.

‘New Opportunities’

PPF offloaded its 26.5 percent in Nomos Bank with plans to use the proceeds to develop growing assets in Russia and Asia and “new opportunities,” according to an Aug. 8 statement. PPF owns consumer lender Home Credit, which operates in eastern Europe, Russia and Asia, as well as electronics retailer Eldorado and real estate in Russia.

Barclays Plc, HSBC Holdings Plc and Banco Santander SA are among foreign companies that have abandoned retail banking operations in Russia in the past two years as state-controlled lenders increase their market share.

Otkritie, part-owned by state-run VTB Group, said the Nomos stake is a strategic investment. Billionaire Alexander Mamut, a shareholder in Polymetal International Plc along with with Nesis and PPF, and businessman Oleg Malis acquired the rest of PPF’s stake in the bank, Nomos said last week.

ICT Group held 48.5 percent of Nomos as of July 20, according to a regulatory filing from the bank. Nesis’s share was about 13 percent of the bank, according to Nomos’s website. Nesis held 12.8 percent of Uralkali as of Aug. 1, according to a presentation on the potash producer’s website.

Uralkali has the fourth-largest weighting in the benchmark MSCI Russia Index after OAO Gazprom, OAO Lukoil and OAO Sberbank. Its market value is about $24 billion.

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