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    VTB stake in Bank of Moscow still below controlling interest - official

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    Russia's second largest bank, VTB has not yet gained control of government lender Bank of Moscow , a VTB official said on Monday.

    Russia's second largest bank, VTB has not yet gained control of Bank of Moscow, the Moscow government's lender, a VTB official said on Monday.

    "VTB still possesses a 46.48% share package in Bank of Moscow," VTB said in a statement.

    The statement contradicts media reports that VTB increased its stake in Bank of Moscow to a controlling interest after purchasing share packages from minority shareholders.

    The Vedomosti business daily reported on Monday that VTB had purchased 2.77% in Bank of Moscow from Credit Suisse and another 1.7% from a Swiss fund to gain control of the Moscow government lender. It said that a 3.88% in the bank, held by Goldman Sachs but recently seized by an injunction of a London court, would be sold to Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov.

    In February, VTB approved a gradual acquisition of 100% of shares in Bank of Moscow. The state-controlled lender started its takeover bid with a purchase of a 46.48% stake held by the Moscow government and a blocking interest in Stolichnaya Insurance Group, which owned 17.3% of the Moscow bank.

    Bank of Moscow President and shareholder Andrei Borodin was unwilling to cede control of the bank but VTB found a way around his objections by agreeing to purchase a 3.88% stake in the bank from Goldman Sachs.

    The Goldman Sachs share would have increased VTB's stake in Bank of Moscow to a controlling interest and the investment bank agreed to sell it for 7.1 billion rubles ($247 million). However, a company close to Borodin filed a complaint with the London court and the stake was seized.

    On March 18, the London arbitration court unlocked Goldman Sachs' 3.88% stake in Bank of Moscow but now it will be purchased by Kerimov, the paper said.

    A source close to Kerimov confirmed to Vedomosti that the businessman would buy the Goldman Sachs stake at the price offered by VTB.

    Kerimov intends during the merger of the two banks to exchange his share package in Bank of Moscow for VTB shares to become the largest private shareholder in state-run VTB. Currently, Kerimov's two funds hold 1.5% in VTB, which they acquired during a recent second public offering for $500 million, the paper said.

    MOSCOW, March 21 (RIA Novosti) 

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