* VTB to develop grain business for next 3-5 years - CEO
* Has no plans to cut stake in grain unit further - CEO
* Wants closer cooperation with Yandex
* Full Kostin quotes in Russian
MOSCOW, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Russia's VTB bank,
which has transformed itself into a major grain trader within a
year, plans to remain in the grain business for the next three
to five years, Andrey Kostin, the chief executive of the
state-controlled lender, told Reuters.
VTB, Russia's second biggest bank, has become the largest
operator of domestic grain infrastructure after it snapped up a
number of assets last year. In April, it sold nearly a half of
its grain unit, the Demetra Holding, to two other Russian firms.
"I believe that we will be in this project for the next
three to five years, more likely five," Kostin said in remarks
cleared for publication on Wednesday. "A lot needs to be done to
develop the grain market's infrastructure."
Russia is one of the world's largest wheat exporters. A year
ago, VTB told Reuters that it planned to expand its grain
business and then exit it.
Asked what else VTB needed to do, Kostin said that grain
infrastructure, such as roads and railway hubs, needed to be
improved and that the bank was also looking to strengthen its
grains team further.
"All these things are in our focus, as well as external
market developments where we are more and more actively trying
to enter with our Russian grain," Kostin said.
YANDEX AND AEROFLOT
Asked whether the bank was looking for closer ties with
Russia's top search engine Yandex, in which VTB had a
minority stake, Kostin said:
"We'd like that. But it is important for our partners to
have the same desire too... We are of course interested in
VTB became a minority shareholder in Yandex this year after
the company raised funds to buy out another state bank, Sberbank
, from their former joint marketplace Yandex.Market.
The deal was part of a divorce with Sberbank after Yandex
and Russia's top bank failed to agree on a strategy for their
Kostin, asked whether VTB and Yandex should consider joint
banking services, said:
"I believe that they (Yandex) need to develop financial
services, but how and with whom - this question needs deep
VTB, with other investors, also bought into the secondary
share offering of Aeroflot, Russia's top airline. That was part
of the state's effort to support the flagship carrier which has
been hard hit by a slump in travel caused by the coronavirus
Kostin said that VTB directly bought 5 billion roubles ($66
million) worth of Aeroflot shares and planned to keep this stake
until after the airline's share price increases. He did say when
he expected that to happen. Aeroflot raised a total of 80
($1 = 76.2604 roubles)
(Reporting by Tatiana Voronova and Katya Golubkova
Editing by Tomasz Janowski)