Sberbank signed a binding agreement to sell to Gazprombank a 36% stake in MF Technologies, which controls 57.3% of the voting shares of VK Group (formerly Mail.Ru Group). The deal will amount to $169 million (12.8 billion rubles). According to RBC, it is planned to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021 after receiving the necessary approvals.
The reason for the sale of Sberbank's stake in MF Technologies was not specified. The deal is also not commented on by other beneficiaries. At the same time, Gazprombank believes that the purchase of MF Technologies will allow combining digital and traditional services and products. “There is great potential for cooperation in the area of media, communications and marketing with Gazprom-Media Holding, as well as the development of digital financial services of Gazprombank,” the bank said.
According to Maria Sukhanova, an analyst at BCS Global Markets, the deal is unlikely to affect the strategy of VK Group, but it may negatively affect investor sentiment. Gazprombank analyst Anna Kupriyanova sees the deal as positive for VK Group, since “the incomprehensible situation with the joint venture” (“O2O” is a joint venture between Sberbank and VK Group), in her opinion, “has been putting pressure on shares lately.”
Aton analyst Viktor Dima considers the deal the first step towards the fact that Sberbank and VK Group will independently develop their own ecosystems. “This should have a positive effect on VK, but it will be possible to finally answer this question after it becomes clear how the partners will split the joint venture, who will get what assets,” he clarified.
In turn, Anton Lopatin, director of the analytical group for financial institutions at Fitch, said that the deal should be viewed as a sale of investments; it should not affect the result of Sberbank's non-financial business, since there is no talk of any transformation of the joint venture so far.
Anton Lopatin, the Director of the analytical group for financial institutions at Fitch
The fact that Sberbank was planning to sell back to Gazprombank 36% in MF Technologies became known in mid-November.