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EXCLUSIVE-Russia's Trust Bank to sell 9% in VTB via accelerated bookbuild in March - sources

MOSCOW, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Russia’s Trust Bank, which holds non-performing assets left from three private banking groups taken over in a state bailout, plans to sell its 9% stake in VTB via an accelerated book building in March, financial market sources said.

The sale of the stake, with a current market value of 43 billion roubles ($564 million) based on Refinitiv Eikon data, is part of the central bank’s efforts to recover funds spent on the bailouts since 2017.

The VTB stake was originally held by Okritie banking group, which was the first to be bailed out, since to be bought by Trust last year as the central bank, which owns both lenders, cleans up Otkritie’s balance ahead of an eventual sale.

Two financial market sources said that Trust is actively preparing the sale of its stake in VTB, Russia’s second-biggest lender, and is currently choosing banks to arrange the deal.

Two other sources said that the deal is planned to be in the form of an accelerated book building, whereby order books open for a short period of time in an effort to prevent sharp fluctuations in the share price.

The deal is now planned for March, the sources said. VTB Capital, Citi and JP Morgan are expected to arrange the sale although the list has yet to be finalised, another source added.

VTB Capital, the investment-banking arm of VTB, told Reuters that “if Trust makes a decision to sell the VTB stake, VTB Capital ... would be ready to take part in the deal.”

Trust and JP Morgan declined to comment. VTB, Citi and the central bank did not reply to Reuters requests for comment.

The central bank, which spent more than 2 trillion roubles on bailouts since 2017, has been criticised by market participants for being both the regulator and owner of the rescued banks.

After the bailout, the performing assets were left with Otkritie, while the non-core and non-performing ones were transferred to Trust.

The central bank plans to sell all or parts of Otkritie via an initial public offering or direct sale in 2022, and has started looking for potential investors.

Trust will be dismantled after the asset recovery process is complete. ($1 = 76.2300 roubles) (Reporting by Tatiana Voronova and Olga Popova, Writing by Katya Golubkova, Editing by Louise Heavens)

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