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Exclusive-VTB to sell one of Russia’s biggest grain traders, Demetra-Holding, CEO Kostin says

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – VTB, Russia’s second largest bank, will sell its stake in one of Russia’s biggest grain traders, Demetra-Holding, and is in negotiations with both Russian and foreign buyers, CEO Andrei Kostin told Reuters in an interview.

Demetra has a network of grain elevators, major deep sea grain terminals and its own logistics. It owns a non controlling stake in major grain trader United Grain Company (OZK).

VTB has a 45% stake in the holding.

“We’re coming out of there. It’s decided,” Kostin told Reuters. “We have been out of control for a long time, and we will leave completely.”

He said the asset would be sold this year.

When asked if buyers had been found, he said: “Yes, and even, maybe, there will be not only Russian ones, we’ll see.”

He declined to say who the buyers were but clarified that they would be from “friendly” countries – a word Russia uses to describe countries which have not imposed sanctions on Russia.

When asked if billionaire Vadim Moshkovich was a bidder, Kostin said: “No.”

Asked if it could be the Chinese, Kostin said: “Why China? We have lots of friends, more than 100 countries did not support the anti-Russian sanctions, so we will choose one of them.”

Kostin said VTB saw few prospects for itself in the grain business, adding that a sanctioned bank in the shareholding hindered the holding.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Elena Fabrichnaya)

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