Lenta Deal Expected in A Month

A deal to sell control in retail chain Lenta is expected to come before the end of October, a banking source and a source close to the chain's shareholders said Tuesday.

The St. Petersburg-based chain of hypermarkets is holding a tender for the sale of an 89 percent stake, or the shares of all shareholders except for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which owns 11.1 percent.

Bidders reportedly include global retail giants Wal-Mart and Carrefour, along with Finnish retailer Kesko and Croatian food group Agrokor.

"All the companies have valued Lenta at just under $2 billion, but all of them [want] different conditions of the deal," the banking source said.

"Two strategists are interested in buying Lenta entirely, including EBRD shares. All conditions are being weighed up, the final choice will be made in favor of the most advantageous [offer]. I think it will take about a month," he added.

Another source, who is close to Lenta's shareholders, said the financial crisis had not affected the plans of either the sellers or the potential buyers and that the deal was expected to be completed by the end of October.

A source close to Carrefour confirmed that it remained interested in buying Lenta.

The privately owned chain includes 31 hypermarkets, with 14 in St. Petersburg, and the rest in other major Russian cities.