MOSCOW, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir
Putin on Tuesday gave approval for Russian carmaker Avtovaz to
buy RN Bank, a joint venture between Italian lender UniCredit
and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, a rare sale of a
foreign-owned strategic asset.
Tuesday's order cited an Aug. 5 decree, signed by Putin,
which banned investors from so-called unfriendly countries from
selling shares in key energy projects and banks until the end of
the year. That decree gave Putin the power to issue special
waivers in certain cases for deals to go ahead.
In accordance with the Aug. 5 decree, Tuesday's order
"authorised deals by Avtovaz to acquire 100% of shares in RN
Bank, owned by Barn B.V.," the joint venture.
UniCredit holds a 40% stake in Barn B.V. The alliance held
60% when the JV was formed in 2013.
The Italian bank has held talks with potential buyers of its
Russian business, but those efforts have since been hampered by
restrictions on asset sales.
When Citigroup Inc. agreed to sell a portfolio of
personal instalment loans to commercial bank Uralsib, the Bank
of Russia said the decree on asset sales only applies to
transactions with shares.
Japan's Nissan last month took a $687 million loss
in handing over its business in Russia to a state-owned entity
for one euro ($1), mirroring an earlier move by Renault
which sold its majority stake in Avtovaz for one
Mitsubishi in October said nothing had yet been
decided on whether it would withdraw from Russia in response to
a Nikkei report that it was considering leaving. It halted
production in April.
On its website, RN Bank says it is Russia's 56th-largest
bank in terms of assets.
"The priority areas for the bank's activity are: consumer
loans for buying the alliance's brands' cars, financing the
alliance's brands' dealers, and also providing related financial
services to customers," RN Bank says.
UniCredit and Avtovaz declined to comment. RN Bank, Renault,
Nissan and Mitsubishi did not immediately respond.
($1 = 0.9636 euros)
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow, Elena Fabrichnaya and Gleb
Stolyarov; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Kevin Liffey
and Mark Potter)