S&P GIVES ROSBANK B-C RATINGS WITH A "STABLE" FORECAST

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MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti) - Standard & Poor's agency announced on Wednesday that it had given Russia's Rosbank commercial bank a B- long-term credit rating and C short-term credit rating, with a sustainable development forecast.

Besides, the bank received the ruBBB- rating on the Russian rating scale, Rosbank press release reads.

"Rosbank's ratings reflect its belonging to the strong financial and industrial group of Interros, and good prospects for the development of services for private individuals, which are being promoted by the current merger of Rosbank and the Society of Mutual Crediting (OVK) group, which Interros has acquired recently," reads the press release further.

"Rosbank's relatively low financial indices, the high concentration of assets and liabilities in certain partners' hands, and risks of merging with such a weak bank as OVK are having a negative influence on the bank's ratings," said Irina Penkina, a S&P credit expert.

Interros acquired the OVK group for some $200 million in October 2003 with the aim of merging it into Rosbank in 2005. The merger shall give Rosbank a better access to Russia's regional markets and private clients, which will allow to reduce the concentration of corporate banking business.

"However, OVK's distributing network is not being exploited to the full and it is operating inefficiently, although it employs over 10,000 staff and the total amount of deposits involved is $300 million," reads the press release.

"The sustainable development forecast reflects the bank's potentialities in diversifying its services, revenues and clientele through the upcoming merger with OVK," said Ms Penkina. The expert added that the merger would be a difficult process, particularly in terms of modernising OVK's branches and building up retail clients.

Rosbank is a major private-owned bank. It had $2.7 billion in assets, as of September 30, 2003.

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