Sberbank envisages VBI stake

A leading Russian bank may take over struggling Volksbank AG’s (ÖVAG) international operations department.Russian business newspaper Vedomosti reports today (Weds) that Moscow-based Sberbank was in the final stage of negotiations with ÖVAG about the acquisition of a 51 per cent interest in VBI (Volksbank International). The daily cites sources close to Sberbank’s top management saying that the deal would be closed in the near future.ÖVAG, which sustained a loss of 1.123 billion Euros after taxes in 2009, achieved a net turnover of 56.6 million Euros in the first three quarters of 2010. VBI suffered net losses of 21.8 million Euros last year.Austrian press have been speculating about a possible cooperation between ÖVAG and an Austrian competitor like Raiffeisenzentralbank (RZB) or BAWAG PSK (BAWAG) considering VBI. RZB and BAWAG however denied interest in getting engaged in VBI.It is not the first time for Sberbank to approach an Austrian company. The financial institute teamed up with Austrian-Canadian car parts manufacturer Magna International in a bid to take over Opel, the struggling European subsidy of US firm General Motors (GM), in 2009. GM had already agreed with the consortium in a pre-contract before the firm decided to keep Opel and British sister firm Vauxhall.