17 Mar 2023 16:30

Central Bank has not yet received proposals on change of Alfa-Bank shareholders

MOSCOW. March 17 (Interfax) - The Central Bank of Russia has not yet received proposals regarding a change of Alfa-Bank's shareholders, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said at a press conference.

"As for the change of the owner of Alfa-Bank, we have not yet received such proposals for a deal. We don't know whether this needs to be cleared with the Central Bank, so I can't say. We haven't had a request from the bank's owners," she said.

It emerged last week that entrepreneurs Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven plan to exit the capital of Alfa Bank by selling their stake to banking business partner Andrei Kosogov in order to achieve the lifting of Western sanctions; the credit institution is valued at 178 billion rubles, or $2.3 billion, the Financial Times reported, citing sources.

The deal is scheduled to close this spring, but it must be approved by regulators, including the Central Bank of Russia and the tax authorities. Moreover, approval of the U.S. and EU sanctions authorities could be required, the FT said. Alfa Bank is included in the U.S. and European sanctions lists, while Fridman and Aven are under EU and UK sanctions.

"As far as we know, such a deal really is being mooted. It's too early to talk about its completion - the parties need to go through a number of corporate and legal procedures," Alfa-Bank said.

The deal is "beautiful on paper", because it is being carried out between non-sanctioned individuals, one of the FT's sources said. "Fridman and Aven rid themselves of sanctions, Kosogov receives the bank, and the bank has one, single Russian shareholder," the source explained. However, the FT sources warn that completion of the transaction could be complicated owing to difficulties in obtaining regulatory approval from several jurisdictions.

"Neither Andrei Kosogov nor the seller have been sanctioned, so it is likely that approval of the transaction by foreign regulators will not be required. One way or another, the transaction will be carried out in full compliance with all applicable laws. The main outcome of the transaction, if it takes place, will be that the core owner of the bank will be a Russian citizen and one of the founders of Alfa Group, Andrei Kosogov," Alfa Bank said.

Alfa Bank ranked fourth in terms of assets in the Interfax-100 ranking in 2021.