Russia's VTB expands grain export business with acquisition of trader
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MOSCOW, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Russian state-controlled bank VTB VTBR.MM said on Thursday that it had completed its purchase of a 70% stake in local grain trader Mirogroup, expanding the lender's diversification into the grain export business.
Russia is the world's largest wheat exporter and the expansion of VTB, the country's second-largest lender, in grain export infrastructure in recent months has been seen by some traders as a sign of the Russian government tightening the grip over the sector.
"The acquisition of Mirogroup is an important step in the implementation of VTB's grain market strategy," VTB First Deputy Chief Executive Yuri Soloviev said in a statement.
"By creating a trading and logistics infrastructure, the Bank will be able to sell grain of good quality on global markets directly to end consumers," he added.
VTB has said that it sees the possibility of working with the government to expand Russia's grain export potential.
It did not disclose the value of the Mirogroup deal.
The bank owns stakes in two grain export terminals in the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk and has said it is in talks to buy a stake in another terminal in the Black Sea port of Taman. It also owns a stake in Russia's largest grain rail-wagon owner Rustranscom (RTC).
Mirogroup has an extensive network of regional representative offices, long-term partnerships with agricultural producers and infrastructure enterprises, VTB said in the statement. Mirogroup exported 2 million tonnes of grain from Russia in the previous marketing season which ended on June 30.
(Reporting by Tatiana Voronova; writing by Polina Devitt; editing by Susan Fenton)
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