UPDATE 1-Russias VTB not interested in buying Cypriot banks

Thursday 21st March, 2013

Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:48pm EDT

* VTB is the Russian bank most exposed to Cyprus

* Says losses, if any, will be only tens of mlns of euros

* Fitch says risks to Russian banks likely to be limited

MOSCOW, March 21 (Reuters) – Russia’s VTB said it did not want to buy banking assets in Cyprus, as talks continue on whether Russia can help the island, whose financial system may collapse if it does not get an international bailout.

Cypriot Finance Minister Michael Sarris was in Moscow for a second day to seek investments in Cyprus’ banks and energy resources to reduce its debt burden, as well as an extension to an existing Russian bailout loan.

The European Union has given Cyprus till Monday to raise billions of euros for an international bailout or face the collapse of its financial system and likely euro exit.

Asked if VTB, Russia’s No. 2 bank, was interested in buying banking assets in Cyprus, where it operates via subsidiary Russian Commercial Bank, chief executive Andrei Kostin said: “No”.

“Two big banks there are in a very hard situation. They need significant investments in the form of a bailout. So it’s meaningless to speak in any way about us being interested.” …

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