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Potanin not planning further Russian banking M&A -Interfax

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Vladimir Potanin, Chief Executive of Russia’s Norilsk Nickel, speaks to journalists on the sidelines of the Week of Russian Business, organized by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), in Moscow, Russia March 16, 2017.

(Reuters) -Businessman Vladimir Potanin is not planning any further Russian banking acquisitions after two high-profile deals, and has turned down a proposal to buy the Russian arm of Italy’s UniCredit (LON:0RLS), he told the Interfax news agency on Thursday.

Potanin, who has evaded U.S. and EU sanctions imposed on Russian business figures deemed to have close ties to the Kremlin, snapped up Rosbank from Societe Generale (EPA:SOGN) when the French lender exited the Russian market, before adding a 35% stake in TCS Group.

But those deals – done via his Interros holding company along with the acquisition of United Card Services, the Russian unit of U.S.-listed Global Payments – are set to be his last.

“We are not planning any further acquisitions in the banking sector,” Potanin said. “We will focus on Rosbank and on improving its portfolio, technology, client focus and sustainability.”

Potanin said Interros had bought its TCS stake for several hundred million dollars. TCS, which runs online bank Tinkoff, reported a fall in first-quarter net profit late on Wednesday, but declined to disclose figures.

TCS founder Oleg Tinkov, who sold Potanin his stake, estimated his holding had been worth more than $2 billion in early March, but said in an interview this month with Russian blogger Yuri Dud he had sold it for “kopecks”.

“We see no synergy between these banks and treat them absolutely differently,” Potanin said. “For us, Tinkoff is a hi-tech fintech company, while Rosbank is a classic, conservative bank.”

Potanin told Interfax that UniCredit had made proposals to Interros about buying its Russian subsidiary, after the Rosbank purchase was made public.

“But we were not interested in this purchase,” Potanin said.


In other areas, Interros’ appetite for deals remains sizeable, Potanin said, eyeing stakes in internet giant Yandex, recruiter Headhunter and streaming service ivi.

“We believe that hi-tech, along with raw materials business, tourism and financial technologies is where Interros should go,” Potanin said.

The businessman, who heads mining giant Nornickel, last December moved his offshore company Interros Capital from Cyprus back to the Russky Island economic zone in Russia’s far east.

“Of course, no one could have foreseen that the situation would develop in such a complicated way…but the strategy of ‘de-offshore-isation’ and redomiciliation of our business has now served us very well,” he said.

Potanin not planning further Russian banking M&A -Interfax

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