Goldman Sachs has sold its 3.88% stake in Russia's Bank of Moscow, now being acquired by the country's No.2 bank VTB, a Goldman Sachs official told RIA Novosti on Wednesday without disclosing the buyer.
Media has said the Goldman Sachs stake was likely to be sold to Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov who intends to swap his stake for VTB shares to become the largest private shareholder in the state-run VTB.
VTB and Kerimov's representatives declined to comment.
Currently, Kerimov's two funds hold 1.5% in VTB, which they acquired during a recent second public offering for $500 million.
In February, VTB approved a gradual acquisition of 100% of shares in Bank of Moscow. The state-controlled lender started its takeover bid with a purchase of a 46.48% stake held by the Moscow government and a blocking interest in Stolichnaya Insurance Group, which owned 17.3% of the Moscow bank.
Bank of Moscow President and shareholder Andrei Borodin, however, was unwilling to cede control of the bank but VTB found a way around his objections by agreeing to purchase a 3.88% stake in the bank from Goldman Sachs.
Goldman Sachs' share would have increased VTB's stake in Bank of Moscow to controlling interest and the investment bank agreed to sell it for 7.1 billion rubles ($247 million). However, a company close to Borodin filed a court complaint, following which Goldman Sachs' stake was seized.
On March 18, the London arbitration court unlocked Goldman Sachs' stake in Bank of Moscow but Vedomosti business daily said the stake would be sold to Kerimov at a price offered by VTB.
The media had reported VTB purchased 2.77% in Bank of Moscow from Credit Suisse and another 1.7% from a Swiss fund to gain control of the Moscow government's lender but a VTB official said the bank has not yet gained a controlling stake in Bank of Moscow and still keeps 46.48%.
MOSCOW, March 23 (RIA Novosti)
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