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SocGen purchase of Russia`s Rosbank at risk -paper


Societe Generale`s purchase of control in Russia`s Rosbank is at risk as state arms exporter Rosoboronexport wants to buy the stake and is seeking to reverse the deal, a newspaper reported on Friday.

However, French bank Societe Generale said there were no changes to its plans concerning Rosbank.

"The contractual agreements regarding Rosbank envisage the purchase of shares of the total business perimeter of the bank in case of exercise," SocGen said in a statement.

Societe Generale last year bought 20 percent minus one share in Rosbank, which belongs to metals billionaires Mikhail Prokhorov and Vladimir Potanin, with an option to buy 30 percent plus two shares for $1.7 billion before the end of 2008.

Vedomosti business daily cited sources close to Prokhorov as saying the Russian state arms exporter had filed a request with the Central Bank to see whether the deal could be reversed.

"The military has accounts in Rosbank, and they express concerns that SG can get access to state secrets," Vedomosti quoted one source as saying.

Rosbank, Rosoboronexport were not immediately available for comments.

The arms exporter might also be seeking to acquire the bank itself as it is struggling to service its accounts in Russia`s largest banks, Sberbank and VTB , after recent management reshuffles, sources told Vedomosti.

Alfa Bank said in a note it believed the news came on the back of a painful divorce process between Potanin and Prokhorov, who have been struggling to split their metals, mining and energy assets in the past months.

"As the sale of shares in Rosbank to Societe Generale has already been approved by Russian authorities, it is unlikely the deal can be blocked without seriously damaging the reputation of the Russian government," analysts Natalia Orlova and Olga Naydenova said in a note.

"Even if Rosbank`s business is split into retail and corporate parts in order to satisfy Rosoboronexport and partially salvage the deal, this is unlikely to be accepted by SocGen," they said, adding that the news was bad for Rosbank`s shares.

The stock of Rosbank was 0.54 percent higher at 0955 GMT, underperforming a 1.2 percent rise in the wider market .

SocGen shares were up 1.3 percent.

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