Sberbank is interested in buying one of the leading online retailers in Russia, Citylink, which is part of the Merlion group.
According to the source of the publication, at the end of 2020, Sberbank conducted a presale audit and assessment of one of the country's largest IT distributors, Merlion. Another source in the distribution market clarified that Sberbank is in talks to acquire the company's retail assets. These include the Positronic electronics network, the Citylink electronics retailer (more than 650 stores and order pick-up points) and the Computer Clinic Network of service centers.
At the end of December, Sberbank and Merlion announced a strategic partnership, under which the distributor's capabilities will be "integrated into the emerging e-commerce industry of Sberbank." As previously explained by the deputy chairman of the bank's board Lev Khasis, Sberbank intends to enter the top three in the Russian e-commerce market by 2023. To do this, it is planned to launch a marketplace in 2021 and buy out a majority stake in Sbermarket, which is now part of a joint venture with Mail.ru Group.
After the division of assets with Yandex, Sberbank's interest in the retail assets of Merlion is logical, says Mikhail Burmistrov, CEO of Infoline-Analytics. Last summer, Sberbank was interested in buying a stake in Ozon, and in the fall it began negotiations with M.Video on the joint development of its Goods.ru, the expert noted.
Among the assets of Merlion, the most attractive for Sberbank may be Citylink due to its extensive network of orders, adds Mikhail Burmistrov. According to Data Insight, the sales volume of Citilink in 2019 amounted to 90.4 billion rubles, this is the second result among online retailers in the Russian Federation after Wildberries.