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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

VTB Plans to Invest in Sheremetyevo-3

Vneshtorgbank will become a major investor in the much-delayed construction of a third terminal for Sheremetyevo Airport, the chairman of the state-owned bank said Thursday.

The announcement is likely to give new impetus to a project that has been stalled for years and brighten the prospects of overhauling Sheremetyevo, Moscow's gloomy Soviet-era gateway.

"In one form or the other, VTB will be present in this project," VTB chairman Andrei Kostin said at a signing ceremony with Sheremetyevo representatives, Interfax reported. He said the investment could take the form of loans or the acquisition of shares in the new terminal.

Kostin said that talks are underway to create a company that will manage Sheremetyevo-3, the agency reported. Investors in the new company could include flag carrier Aeroflot, domestic lenders like VTB, and possibly foreign partners, he said.

VTB could take a stake of anywhere from 25 percent to 49 percent in the new company, Kostin said. The terminal will cost between $350 million and $400 million -- money that VTB will put up itself or help draw from international lenders, he said, Prime-Tass reported.

VTB is not the first bank to show interest in the decaying airport. National Reserve Bank, which holds 30 percent in Aeroflot, has said that it is ready to attract the investment needed to build a third terminal.

A unit of the Alfa conglomerate was picked in the government tender to manage the existing Sheremetyevo complex last year. But the change of government in March -- and vehement opposition from Aeroflot -- delayed the awarding of a management contract to Alfa.

A new team of managers appointed by the government in October was tasked with renovating the two existing terminals and proceeding with construction of Sheremetyevo-3.

In 2004 the two terminals served 12.8 million passengers, well over their intended capacity of 9 million.

Work on the new terminal has not moved beyond the groundbreaking ceremony in 2001 as the government, the airport and Aeroflot have wrangled over who should build it.

Last year, Aeroflot finally set up its own company, Terminal, to jump-start construction. Last week Sheremetyevo's board said it had agreed to buy a blocking stake in Terminal, with a further option to take a controlling stake once the third terminal is completed. The tentative finish-date is 2007.

It was unclear Thursday how shares will be distributed among the major players. Kostin said that the issue will be resolved later this month.

"We support VTB's commitment," said Lev Koshlyakov, deputy general director of Aeroflot. "We have long worked with VTB as our major partner."

Leonid Dushatin, vice president of NRB, also welcomed VTB's interest in Sheremetyevo but said that it will be up to Aeroflot, the author of Sheremetyevo-3, to rubber-stamp the entry conditions at a board meeting in the spring.

"VTB's announcement is not critical to Sheremetyevo-3's future, but it shows that the project is moving ahead," said Yelena Sakhnova, an analyst with United Financial Group.