Chemezov's Wife Could Join MFK Bank

Yekaterina Ignatova, wife of Russian Technologies chief Sergei Chemezov, could become a partner of billionaires Mikhail Prokhorov, Alexander Abramov, Viktor Vekselberg and Suleiman Kerimov in MFK Bank, Vedomosti has learned.

A source close to one of the future MFK shareholders said Ignatova could join the bank.

"MFK made an offer to my wife, Yekaterina Ignatova, to become a shareholder. She has not yet made a final decision," Chemezov told Vedomosti through a spokesperson.

Chemezov will join MFK's board of directors, which will be chaired by Prokhorov, bank president Alexander Popov said.

Prokhorov currently owns 100 percent of the bank's shares. But in December, the lender said it was increasing its capital by $200 million and that Abramov, Vekselberg and Kerimov would join as shareholders.

Popov told Vedomosti that the plans for the deal had changed. Prokhorov, Abramov, Vekselberg, Kerimov and Chemezov on Tuesday discussed the proposed shareholder agreement and the terms of an additional share issue, which should be concluded in early March.

The issue should be worth $150 million to $160 million, and the new shareholders will contribute identical sums. The initial deposit will be raised to $30 million, from an earlier planned $20 million, and their stakes in MFK will be no less than 20 percent, Popov said. Prokhorov will have a blocking stake of just more than 25 percent, instead of the originally planned controlling stake.

Vekselberg called the changes "reasonable." All of the meeting's participants share a strategy for participating in MFK, which will buy up, restructure and resell problem assets, he said.

The proposal to change the stakes of the future shareholders was made by Vekselberg, a source close to one of the meeting participants said.

For Prokhorov, it was more important to attract additional capital than to retain control over MFK, said a source close to a different participant of the meeting.

Vedomosti was unable to reach Ignatova on Tuesday.

"Personally, I don't see anything objectionable in it," Chemezov said, referring to Ignatova's participation in the bank.

"My wife is an economist by training, she is involved in business and heads OOO Kate [a company that develops and produces automatic transmissions, including for Russian-made cars]. She has the right to manage the funds belonging to her firm as she sees fit," he said. "What's more, she is obliged as a good manager to increase them. Participating in banking, as we know, is one of the tried and true ways to do that."

Officials employed by state corporations are not required to declare their income. But the Central Bank has special demands of new shareholders, who must declare their earnings and their main source, said Alexei Terekhov, a partner at FBK. He said that might partially explain the appearance of a shareholder like Ignatova at MFK.

"Russian Technologies is involved in such a wide range of business that no matter where Ignatova worked, you'd always be able to search hard enough to find some way to string a connection to the state corporation," Chemezov said.

The corporation owns major stakes in automakers AvtoVAZ and KamAZ.

Ignatova and Chemezov's participation in MFK will likely boost the volume of its work with companies controlled by Russian Technologies, Terekhov said. Several of the state corporations' assets are already MFK clients, a source at the bank said.

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