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Report: Russia could use sovereign wealth fund to buy Sberbank stake

Russia intends to use its sovereign wealth fund to purchase the central bank's stake in local lender PAO Sberbank of Russia, Reuters reported, citing a state banker and a source familiar with the plan.

Under the proposed plan, the country's finance ministry, which is managing the Russian National Wealth Fund, will acquire the Central Bank of the Russian Federation's 50% plus one share in Sberbank, although the sources did not specify how much the government was willing to pay for the stake.

The plan will also see the central bank transferring any profits it earns from the potential sale to the state budget, according to the sources. The central bank's stake in Sberbank is worth 2.8 trillion rubles based on the lender's current market capitalization, the newswire wrote.

Four sources told Reuters in the week beginning Dec. 16 that Russian officials were in discussions to transfer the regulator's holding in Sberbank to another state entity due to a potential conflict of interest in the central bank's role as owner and supervisor of the bank.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters Dec. 24 that the government was deliberating over the matter while Oleg Osipov, a spokesman for Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, told Reuters that no final decision has been made yet.

As of Dec. 25, US$1 was equivalent to 61.83 Russian rubles.