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VTB Hands Rosbank Stake to SocGen for Moscow Exchange Holding

VTB Group, Russia’s second-largest bank, agreed to swap its 10 percent holding in OAO Rosbank to Societe Generale SA for a stake in the Moscow Exchange as well as corporate loans and real estate assets.

“There’s an asset swap of Micex, in addition to loans to major companies,” VTB Chief Executive Officer Andrey Kostin said today in an interview from Bali, Indonesia. VTB, which already held 5.4 percent of the Moscow bourse, said in May that it was in talks with Societe Generale to sell its minority stake in Rosbank.

Taken together, the assets may have a value of about $300 million, Kostin said, without giving a more precise figure. Societe Generale spokesman Antoine Lheritier declined to comment on the assets involved in the swap. Andrey Braginskiy, a spokesman for the Moscow Exchange, didn’t comment on the transaction when reached by phone.

A 10 percent stake in Rosbank has a value of about 8.7 billion rubles ($270 million) based on yesterday’s closing price. Rosbank in its 2012 annual report valued its holding in the Moscow Exchange at more than 4 billion rubles.

Societe Generale’s stake in Rosbank will rise to 92 percent, resulting in “limited impact” on the French bank’s core Tier 1 capital and a “positive financial impact” on Rosbank, the Paris-based bank said in a statement. VTB won’t hold any shares in Rosbank after the sale, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, the Russian lender said in a separate statement.

Liquid Assets

“It is good that the two sides have finally come to an agreement because VTB will gain more liquid assets in exchange,” Andrey Klapko, an analyst at OAO Gazprombank, said by phone today from Moscow.

Rosbank fell 3 percent to 54.30 rubles in Moscow trading, while VTB retreated 0.2 percent to 4.22 kopeks, giving it a capitalization of 546.9 billion rubles. Societe Generale rose 0.9 percent to 39.27 euros in Paris trading, giving it a market value of 31.4 billion euros ($42.6 billion).

Societe Generale’s profit from Russia rose in the first half as it kept cutting costs and jobs at Rosbank two years after merging it with its other Russian branch network, BSGV. The French company is among foreign lenders keeping its consumer-banking operations in Russia after competitors including London-based Barclays Plc and HSBC Holdings Plc abandoned theirs.

Societe Generale made a 65 million-euro first-half profit from Russia, up from 4 million euros a year earlier, the bank said in August. A plan for staff reductions at Rosbank’s Moscow headquarters was completed by the end of July, it said.

Russia Growth

In June, Societe Generale pledged to keep building its Russian business as it sought to move beyond the May arrest of Rosbank’s former CEO on bribery charges. Societe Generale has said it’s aiming for a return on equity, a measure of profitability, of more than 15 percent in Russia by 2015.

VTB bought a stake in Rosbank from billionaire Vladimir Potanin’s Interros Holding Co. in December 2010.

VTB sold the remainder of its holding in Russian lender Otkritie Financial Corp. in April as part of its program to dispose of minority stakes in financial industry assets.

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