MOSCOW (Reuters) - Gazprombank (>> Gazprombank OAO) has been in talks with Sberbank (>> Sberbank Rossii OAO), Russia's biggest lender, over the acquisition of debts owed by steel and coal producer Mechel (>> Mechel OAO), two sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.
Mechel, controlled by businessman Igor Zyuzin, had incurred much of its debt before the economic downturn. The company, which employs 72,000 people, has been in talks with its main lenders, including Sberbank, VTB (>> Bank VTB OAO) and Gazprombank, over a debt restructuring since 2014.
"The question is, at what price Sberbank will give out the debt," a source said about Gazprombank's talks with Sberbank.
Banks and Mechel declined to comment.
Mechel invested heavily in expansion before the 2008 financial crisis hit demand and then had to sell some of its assets when they became loss-making.
Mechel's net debt stands at around $7 billion (£4.6 billion).
Last week Russia's Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said Mechel had reached an "acceptable solution" to a debt dispute with Gazprombank.
(Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva and Svetlana Burmistrova; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Greg Mahlich)