Russian businessman and lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov agreed to acquire a majority stake in Vozrozhdenie Bank from Dmitry and Aleksey Ananiev, the former owners of PAO Promsvyazbank, which was bailed out by the Russian central bank in December 2017, Reuters reported Feb. 18, citing "three sources close to the deal."
The transaction could be a non-cash deal because of existing obligations of the lender's current owners to entities owned by Kerimov, according to the newswire.
Kerimov is under investigation in France for tax evasion, but was granted permission by French authorities to travel to Russia in January to finalize the deal, and is now back in France, Reuters said.
Following the Dec. 15 bailout of Promsvyazbank, the central bank told the Ananiev brothers to reduce their stake in Vozrozhdenie to below 10% by mid-March, Kommersant noted Feb. 18, adding that the two businessmen hold a 52.7% stake in Vozrozhdenie, according to information on the central bank's website.
Bonum Capital, a company affiliated with Kerimov, confirmed its interest in Vozrozhdenie and submitted its candidates for the lender's new board of directors. Russian non-state pension fund Blagosostoyanie also submitted its candidates to the board and is reportedly interested in reaching an agreement with the lender's future owner about merging Vozrozhdenie with Absolut Bank (PAO), Vedomosti said earlier in February.
There are also other investors interested in acquiring Vozrozhdenie, although several potential buyers withdrew their interest after a 38.1% stake in the lender was frozen by Moscow Arbitration Court in a dispute between Promsvyazbank and former shareholders, Kommersant said in its Feb. 18 report.
The Russian central bank is expected to issue its decision on the potential sale of Vozrozhdenie by the week ending Feb. 23, the newspaper noted. The regulator is reportedly skeptical about Kerimov becoming the lender's new owner because of the tax evasion investigation in France.
The central bank is also concerned that some of the potential investors could help the Ananiev brothers retain control of the bank after the sale, so it is checking all potential buyers and may want to opt for a sale scheme under which none of the new owners would have a controlling stake in the lender, Kommersant said, citing a source familiar with the matter.