Russia’s Orient Express bank plans listing

ORIENT Express, a mid-sized lender, said it plans to launch Russia’s first initial public offering in the banking sector since the financial crisis struck in 2008.

Russia’s banking sector has been hit hard by the global economic downturn, and the deal to raise at least $200m (£138m) would show the level of appetite among investors for lenders outside the blue chips such as Sberbank and VTB.

“We plan an IPO as it lets us to take up the market position and raise additional capital... There is no sense to tap the market with less than a $200m [offering],” said chief executive Sergei Vlasov, who has a 15.6 per cent stake in the firm.

The bank, with shareholder capital of 7.3bn roubles (£163m), focuses on retail lending and needs money to finance mergers and acquisitions to fund its growth ambitions.

“The acquisition of at least two banks is in the offing,” Vlasov said, adding that the IPO issue would be discussed in June and that the transaction details had not been decided.

The bank, ranked among the country’s top 100 in terms of asset value, is understood to be looking at selling shares this year and has already held talks with advisers.