September 3, 2019 / 5:53 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Russia's VTB plans to enter grain markets in Africa, Middle East and Asia

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MOSCOW, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Russian state-controlled VTB bank , which has been expanding its grain business, plans to enter grain markets in Africa, the Middle East and Asia to increase Russian grain exports, a senior official told reporters.

VTB, Russia's second largest lender, has recently become the largest operator of the country's grain export infrastructure and is building its own export arm after buying large local grain trader Mirogroup in August.

The goal of VTB's grain project is to gain a significant market share in Russia and abroad, Vitaly Sergeichuk, deputy head of VTB's client relations department in market regions, said in remarks ready for publication on Tuesday.

Sergeichuk said many intermediaries and trading companies, including international firms, are currently playing a key role in the Russian wheat trade.

Two months into the 2019/20 marketing season, VTB's Mirogroup is the 4th largest grain exporter from Russia's deep-water ports of the Black and Azov Seas after local traders RIF, Aston and Swiss trader Glencore, he said.

The ports exported a combined 6.1 million tonnes of grain between July 1 and Aug. 25, he added.

Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, has shipped 8.7 million tonnes of grain abroad since the start of the 2019/20 season, 7% less than in the same period a year ago. The figure included 7.3 million tonnes of wheat.

VTB also said that it was looking to get access to high-quality services in the area of grain supply to ports in Russia. (Reporting by Polina Devitt and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; editing by Christian Schmollinger and Richard Pullin)

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