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Report: Front-runner in race for VEB units drops out

Region, a Russian asset manager with ties to oil company Rosneft, is no longer interested in acquiring GLOBEX Commercial Bank JSC and Interregional Bank for Settlements of the Telecommunications & Postal Services from Vnesheconombank, Vedomosti reported March 30.

Region did not file a bid for the units by the March 20 deadline, Vedomosti said, citing two sources close to VEB and a participant in the bidding process.

Region and Public Stock Co. Orient Express Bank were the two main candidates to acquire Globex and Sviaz-Bank. Region was considered to be the favorite because it offered a better price and deal conditions. However, the purchase of the lenders by the asset manager was not supported by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and President Vladimir Putin's aide Andrey Belousov, who is also a member of VEB's supervisory board and the chairman of Rosneft's board of directors, Vedomosti said.

Vnesheconombank received three bids for the units, which are currently being analyzed, an unnamed manager from the state-controlled development bank told the newspaper without disclosing further information. VEB's head Sergey Gorkov recently said the submitted proposals would be analyzed within two weeks.

VEB is also considering keeping the two units if it does not receive satisfactory offers for them, according to one of Vedomosti's sources. The newspaper added, however, that this information was denied by the lender.