January 20, 2007 / 11:04 PM / 12 years ago

Russia's MDM Bank owners part ways

MOSCOW, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The two owners of leading Russian private bank MDM said on Monday they would divide their business assets, with Sergei Popov taking a 90 percent stake in the bank and partner Andrei Melnichenko leaving to take control of fertiliser producer Evrokhim.

Both men previously held stakes in both companies.

“Sergei and I analysed what each of us could do to develop our companies and, as a result, we took the decisions that we have communicated today,” a statement from MDM Bank quoted Melnichenko as saying.

MDM Bank is rated among Russia’s top 15 banks by assets, with strong positions in both retail and investment banking. It currently has Eurobonds worth about $1.8 billion in circulation. Melnichenko, who started in business in the early 1990s exchanging roubles for hard currency on the streets of Moscow, founded MDM Bank in 1993 and led it through the 1998 financial crisis.

Popov became a board member at the bank in 2000 and acquired 50 percent of MDM’s shares from Melnichenko in 2003.

“I am absolutely sure that, with my business partner, the bank will stay in good hands,” Melnichenko, referring to Popov, was quoted in the statement as saying.

After 2000, MDM Group — the bank’s parent company — consolidated assets in the coal and chemical industries, later creating Evrokhim and Russia’s largest coal company, SUEK.

The statement said Melnichenko would remain a partner in SUEK. A representative of Melnichenko, Vladimir Melnikov, told Reuters the two business partners remained friends.

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