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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

X5 Sees Opportunity in Cheaper Land

MTThe entrance of a Perekryostok supermarket. The chain said it is ready to buy up cheaper real estate if prices fall.
X5 Retail Group, Russia's largest supermarket retailer, said turmoil in global financial markets may lead to cheaper land purchases and reduced construction costs, as well as presenting opportunities for acquisitions.

"We want to consolidate resources to capitalize in full from an anticipated decrease in real estate prices, lower construction costs and the emergence of attractive merger and acquisition opportunities,'' chief financial officer Yevgeny Kornilov said Thursday.

Russian land prices may fall after banks made loans more expensive and harder to obtain, causing some developers to cut back on projects.

MosPrime overnight lending rate, a gauge of liquidity, soared to a record 11.1 percent on Sept. 17.

Since then, the rate has slipped to 8.98 percent.

X5's debt stood at $2.32 billion as of June 30, it said Thursday. Second-quarter net income jumped more than fivefold to $74.4 million, and sales rose 60 percent to $1.98 billion as new stores boosted sales and costs fell, X5 reported on Aug. 29.

The company's stock climbed last Friday when chief executive Lev Khasis said the retailer would have to pay 30 to 40 percent less for new shopping space than a month ago, Vedomosti reported.

On Friday, X5 shares climbed to 50 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $22 in London on the announcement.

The company operates the Pyatyorochka and Perekryostok chains.