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MOSCOW, March 28 (Reuters) - VTB Capital, the investment banking arm of Russia's second largest bank VTB, has moved into the agricultural commodities business, with a focus on the Black Sea and Central Europe, its head of global commodities Atanas Djumaliev told Reuters.
Russia, one of the world's largest wheat exporters with customers mainly in North Africa and the Middle East, harvested a record grain crop in 2016 and prospects for this year's crop are also bright.
"With Russia being one of the largest exporters of wheat in the world, it is a natural fit to expand VTB Capital's client franchise business in agriculture trading," Djumaliev said in an emailed reply to Reuters questions.
Leading grain trader Hans Stoldt recently joined VTB Capital as its director of agricultural trade in Switzerland.
"This area of our business is headed by Hans-Herman Stoldt, who has recently joined VTB Capital and will be based in Zug, Switzerland," Djumaliev said.
"Currently, the agriculture trading is focused on the Black Sea and Central Europe region with plans to extend into other geographic areas in line with our strategy. The driving force behind expected trading volumes for 2017 will be client demand and market opportunities".
Russian agricultural exports are currently dominated by global and local trading houses. In the agricultural markets Russia competes with its Black Sea neighbours like Ukraine and Romania as well as other countries including France and Kazakhstan.
Stoldt was previously director of the Black Sea, central Europe and Adriatic division of international grain trading house Ameropa. (Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Writing by Polina Devitt; Editing by Greg Mahlich)