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Exclusive - Russia's VTB to stay in grain business for next 3-5 years - CEO

28 October 2020
Reuters
  • * VTB to develop grain business for next 3-5 years - CEO
  • * Has no plans to cut stake in grain unit further - CEO
  • * Wants closer cooperation with Yandex
  • * Full Kostin quotes in Russian

Russia's VTB bank, which has transformed itself into a major grain trader within a year, plans to remain in the grain business for the next three to five years, Andrey Kostin, the chief executive of the state-controlled lender, told Reuters.

VTB, Russia's second biggest bank, has become the largest operator of domestic grain infrastructure after it snapped up a number of assets last year. In April, it sold nearly a half of its grain unit, the Demetra Holding, to two other Russian firms.

"I believe that we will be in this project for the next three to five years, more likely five," Kostin said in remarks cleared for publication on Wednesday. "A lot needs to be done to develop the grain market's infrastructure."

Russia is one of the world's largest wheat exporters. A year ago, VTB told Reuters that it planned to expand its grain business and then exit it.

Asked what else VTB needed to do, Kostin said that grain infrastructure, such as roads and railway hubs, needed to be improved and that the bank was also looking to strengthen its grains team further.

"All these things are in our focus, as well as external market developments where we are more and more actively trying to enter with our Russian grain," Kostin said.

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