Sberbank and Ukraine: why there is a new contender for the bank's subsidiary

While the NBU is thinking over permission to sell Ukrainian Sberbank to a consortium of investors represented by Said Gutseriev and Norvic Bank, another buyer, Viktor Prokopenya, emerged.
Origin source
For a number of reasons, it is worth waiting for the emergence of new applicants, experts say.

About the fact that another Ukrainian prospective candidate, Viktor Prokopenya, appeared on the Ukrainian "daughter" of the Russian Sberbank, RBC told a source close to the businessman. Information on his interest in acquiring the asset himself Prokopenya confirmed to RBC through an external press service, refusing any other comments.

According to RBC, the purchase, if approved by the regulators, will go through the company controlled VP Prokopene. She, according to a source from RBC, close to Prokopen, plans to buy Ukrainian Sberbank not directly, but through the Belarusian Paritetbank. "Now it is a state-owned bank, but VP Capital is at the stage of completing a deal to acquire 99.83% of it," the source said. According to him, Paritetbank applied to the National Bank of Ukraine for approval of the acquisition of the Ukrainian "daughter" of Sberbank, this happened on June 30. The National Bank of Belarus approved the purchase of Paritetbank, a source close to Paritetbank said.

The press service of the National Bank of Ukraine said that the regulator did not receive documents to agree on the acquisition of significant participation in other banks with Russian capital, except PJSC "Prominvestbank" and JSC "Sberbank".

The press service of the Savings Bank did not refute or confirm the interest of Viktor Prokopeni's structures in the Ukrainian "daughter" of the bank. "Sberbank has legal obligations to partners that prohibit any comments before the transaction," the press service said. RBC is waiting for responses to requests from the National Bank of Ukraine, the National Bank of Belarus and Paritetbank.

As explained by a source close to the Belarusian businessman, the investment company itself became interested in the Ukrainian asset of Sberbank and entered it.

Sberbank has been selling Ukrainian "daughter" sales since March of this year, when Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko imposed sanctions against Ukrainian "daughters" of Russian state-owned banks.

First potential buyer

Earlier, the only contender for the purchase of Ukrainian Sberbank was a consortium of investors in the Latvian Norvik Banka (owned by businessman Gregory Guselnikov, led by Binbank in 2008-2010), as well as a Belarusian private company owned by British national Said Gutseriev, the son of billionaire Mikhail Gutseriev. On March 27, potential buyers signed an agreement with Sberbank to acquire 100% of the shares of the Ukrainian bank.

To conduct the transaction, Sberbank needed to coordinate it in four agencies - the National Bank of Ukraine, the Antimonopoly Service of Ukraine, the State Commission on Securities of Ukraine, as well as the National Bank of Latvia, sources said RBC.

Information that these services have approved or not approved the transaction, yet. In late May, the newspaper Kommersant, referring to interlocutors familiar with the situation, wrote that the Ukrainian regulator confused the obvious Russian roots of acquirers, although the transaction was formally structured through a Belarusian company and a Latvian bank.

Paritetbank (according to the portal, a member of the top 20 Belarusian banks) owns 99.83% of the bank now in the Republic of Belarus, the remaining 0.17% own minority shareholders, the bank's website says.

Victor Prokopenya is a Belarusian businessman whose VP Capital fund intended to invest more than $ 100 million in projects with the Larnabel Enterprises Fund Mikhail Gutseriev in late December 2016 in connection with the creation and promotion of IT products based on artificial intelligence, RBC wrote.

According to the IFRS of Ukrainian Sberbank, according to the results of 2016 its assets amounted to 48 billion UAH, which is equivalent to 106 billion rubles, if we take the hryvnia rate at the beginning of the year. According to Natalia Yalovskaya, Director of Financial Institutions at S & P Global Ratings, all of Sberbank's assets related to Ukraine were only about 0.1% of Sberbank's total consolidated assets as of December 31, 2016.

Paritetbank's assets are 363 million Belarusian rubles (equivalent to 11 billion rubles), according to Paribank's IFRS results for 2016. The assets of Nokvik Banka are 1 billion euros (equivalent to 63 billion rubles).

Prospects of sale

The appearance of the next investor is not accidental and is explained by a variety of subjective and objective reasons, according to experts interviewed by RBC. "If we talk about the emerging interest, then in any case there will be suspicions that the purchase is nominal, and in fact the Ukrainian Sberbank will still be controlled by the Russian state bank. This will cause discontent among Ukrainian patriots and will destabilize the situation in the bank, "said Boris Kushniruk, head of the expert analytical council of the Ukrainian Analytical Center, recalling that both those who submitted documents to the NBU had previously cooperated with Russia.

Also, among the reasons for the emergence of new customers, experts say that Sberbank, in the opinion of market participants, strict requirements on the parameters of the transaction. "The Russian Sberbank has provided quite a large amount of investment for business development in Ukraine, and it is unlikely that the bank is ready to sell this business with a serious discount, despite the fact that the conditions for its work have developed uneasy," believes the adviser to the president of the Association of Russian Banks Alexei Kushch.

According to the expert, despite the political risks, Sberbank now (after the start of active sales negotiations) has the opportunity to wait: the business model of the Ukrainian Sberbank will allow him to work for another two to three years in terms of sanctions - he does not have very large obligations to the population. "I think that the Ukrainian Sberbank has chosen now such a survival tactic," he said.

Sberbank has long been one of the best Ukrainian banks with Russian participation, which turned out to be a problem for him after the introduction of sanctions against Russian banks, adds Boris Kushniruk. "The bank was perceived as a stable part of a large Russian state structure, which in case of which it will support. New customers, if any, will have to do a serious job of re-positioning the bank. It costs a lot of money, and it's not a fact that the new model will work successfully, "- emphasizes Boris Kushniruk.

As for the prospects of Paritetbank and the consortium of investors Norvik Banka and Said Gutseriev as buyers, they are both formally not ideal candidates, in particular, Paritetbank and Sberbank's "daughter" do not coincide in scale, experts say. "Banks for assets are much smaller than the Ukrainian Sberbank, this can raise questions from the NBU: are such structures able to support Ukrainian Sberbank in difficult times," he notes. At the same time, he believes, it will be difficult to find other, more ambitious, applicants. Kushniruk estimates that $ 0.5 billion to $ 2 billion is needed to start the bank. "Therefore, the NBU faces a difficult task now. We must understand that such an unstable situation does not benefit the Ukrainian banking sector, "he concludes.

In this regard, Alexei Kushch adds that in the near future will reveal himself more than one contender for the Ukrainian daughter of Sberbank.