19 May 2022 13:18

Potanin: No plans for new M&A in banking sector, but interest in investments in leading Russian hi-tech cos remains

MOSCOW. May 19 (Interfax) - The Interros company, which bought Rosbank and a 35% stake in Tinkoff Bank in April, is not considering new acquisitions in the banking sector, Vladimir Potanin, Interros's main owner, said in an interview with Interfax.

Interros is also not planning to increase its stake in Tinkoff Bank's parent company or merge it with Rosbank, as there is no synergy between these banks, Potanin said. It is more likely that Tinkoff Bank's management will bring in partners to develop the business and open new markets, he said. With the intention of keeping the management of both lending organizations as independent as possible, Interros is interested in assets in the hi-tech sphere and outside of startups is also considering mature companies that are leaders on the market. Potanin's company is financing purchases in this sphere with dividends accumulated from Nornickel .

Seller's Initiative

"We took the news that the Societe Generale group was forced to leave our market with regret. We were happy with their banking products and the possibility of carrying out partner projects with Rosbank, in particular, projects on work with digital financial assets," Potanin said.

After buying a controlling stake from Interros in 2007, Societe Generale created a hi-tech, sustainable, and reasonably conservative business according to international standards on the basis of Rosbank, he said.

"We were interested in Rosbank remaining as independent, self-sufficient, and effective as it was. This wasn't just a partnership deal that gave Societe Generale the ability to leave the market in a civilized fashion, inasmuch as that's the decision they made. For me, in particular, this was an emotional decision - bringing Rosbank back into the Interros family that it came from, so to speak," Potanin said.

At the same time, the initiative came from the seller in both the case of buying Rosbank and the stake in TCS Group , Potanin said. "We weren't the first to come out with those kinds of offers," he said.

"The fact that Interros was the bank's founder played a role in the case of Rosbank, and we had lengthy partnership ties [with Societe Generale]. This allowed us to quickly establish dialogue, agree on a deal, and close it fairly quickly," Potanin said.

Interros now believes it important to maintain the management standards of the bank, and Rosbank will thus keep most independent members on its board of directors, as well as management positions and stimulus programs.

Apart from shareholder control of the bank, Interros will take Societe Generale's place in subordinated loans of around 43 billion rubles making up a portion of Rosbank's capital. The deal stipulates that Interros will refinance these subordinated loans extended to Rosbank from Societe Generale, Potanin said. "They're not being written off, they stay in Rosbank's capital, which gives Rosbank a very serious capital reserve," he said. These subordinated loans will remain on Rosbank's balance as long as necessary to keep the bank stable, Potanin said.

Interros will announce a mandatory offer for the few remaining minority shareholders in Rosbank in order to consolidate it.

Merging Rosbank and Tinkoff Bank has never been discussed, Potanin said. "We don't see that these banks have any synergy and relate to them completely differently. Tinkoff for us is a hi-tech, fintech company, and Rosbank is a classic, reasonably conservative bank," he said.

Commenting on information on talks to buy the UniCredit bank, Potanin said that UniCredit came to Interros with such offers after it emerged that the company had bought Rosbank. "But we weren't interested in that purchase," he said.

"We're not planning further acquisitions in the banking sector. We're focusing on Rosbank and enhancing its portfolio, technology, customer focus, and sustainability," Potanin said.

Tinkoff Bank: Deal Negotiations

Interros had a small stake in TSC Group prior to the transaction and was looking at Tinkoff Bank and other Russian hi-tech leaders, such as Yandex , HeadHunter , and Ivi, in all of which it also holds a small stake.

"We were looking at them closely and, of course, couldn't pass up such an opportunity, which arose in connection with the fact that the founder of Tinkoff Bank decided to sell his share," Potanin said.

The parties did not disclose the value of the deal, but the seller, Oleg Tinkov, said in an interview that compared with the fair fundamental value of the asset, he parted with it "for kopecks." According to Potanin, who does not agree with that statement, its value is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

"I can't call hundreds of millions of dollars kopecks. For me, that's a lot of money," Potanin said.