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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EBRD Eyes Electronics, Superstores

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is considering financing Russian superstores and consumer-electronics chains to help them tap rising spending in the region.

The EBRD, which doubled financing in Russia in 2006, will open three new offices in the cities of Samara, Krasnoyarsk and Rostov-on-Don this year, Bruno Balvanera, head of the bank's St. Petersburg office, said Tuesday on the sidelines of a conference in the city. The expansion is part of the EBRD's plans to increase financing in regions that account for 70 percent of the bank's Russian projects.

The lender last month paid $125 million for a stake in Lenta, the biggest retailer in northwest Russia. In 2006, it also bought 20 percent of Nezabudka retailer, which operates 49 stores in Russia's southwest, UBS said in a Feb. 8 report.

"We are talking with other retail companies in Russia and are looking at large stores," Balvanera said at the conference. The EBRD's minimum financing is $30 million, which is enough to open three Lenta outlets, he said. The bank is also interested in electronics retailers and can provide financial guarantees, long-term loans or buy stakes in companies, he said.

The EBRD plans to sell back its stake in Lenta in several years to either current shareholders or in an IPO, Balvanera said Tuesday, declining to disclose the size of its Lenta interest.

The lender this year will also increase financing of Russian infrastructure development, such as roads construction, particularly in St. Petersburg, where it is "already involved in a large number of projects," he added.