7 Sep 2009 11:19

VTB Capital buying 35.4% stake in Lenta for $100 mln-$130 mln

MOSCOW. Sept 7 (Interfax) - VTB Capital, the investment arm of the VTB group, is acquiring a 35.4% stake in St. Petersburg-based retailer Lenta from founder Oleg Zherebtsov jointly with a Western investment fund, a source in financial circles told Interfax.

VTB Capital Managing Director Olga Podoinitsyna confirmed the report.

"We are indeed buying the stake held by Oleg Zherebtsov. This involves the purchase of existing shares," she said.

Podoinitsyna would not identify the Western investment fund or what their relative shares in the stake would be.

The business daily Kommersant has reported that U.S. investment fund TPG is VTB Capital's partner in the acquisition. Kommersant, citing sources, said TPG had provided an interest-free, $10-million loan to Zherebtsov to pay off Marshall Capital Partners, with which he had an option agreement on sale of his stake, and to pay interest on loans from MDM Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland.

The share acquisition might total $100 million-$130 million, the source told Interfax. VTB Capital declined to comment.

The terms of the acquisition have already been agreed and signed. The deal is expected to close in the next two-three weeks.

VTB Capital is not in talks with other Lenta shareholders on boosting its stake.

Lenta was founded in 1993. Other shareholders include August Meyer with 36% and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with 11.1%.