January 31, 2018 / 6:35 PM / 21 days ago

UPDATE 1-Russian court freezes Vozrozhdenie shares as PSB pursues funds

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MOSCOW, Jan 31 (Reuters) - A Russian court has frozen 38.1 percent of the ordinary shares of Vozrozhdenie Bank as part of legal claim by Promsvyazbank (PSB), court documents showed on Wednesday.

PSB, previously owned by Dmitry Ananyev and his brother Alexei, has been operated by the Russian central bank since it was rescued by the regulator last year.

Russian banks are under intense scrutiny after the central bank was forced to bail out three of the country’s largest private lenders, including PSB, in the second half of 2017.

The Ananyev brothers also held a majority stake in PSB’s smaller rival Vozrozhdenie, but under the terms of the PSB bailout they have to reduce this holding to 10 percent.

Moscow’s Arbitration Court has frozen 9,058,431 Vozrozhdenie ordinary shares held by four companies as part of a legal claim by PSB against ten firms registered outside Russia.

It has also frozen more than 60 billion roubles ($1.07 billion) in the accounts of a PSB subsidiary registered in Cyprus, the documents showed.

PSB said the move was to ensure any final ruling by the Russian court was adhered to, both inside and outside Russia.

“PSB will seek the return of illegally withdrawn funds by all means provided by law,” it said in a statement.

Vozrozhdenie declined to comment.

The central bank plans to transfer ownership of PSB to the government by April as part of a plan to have the recapitalised lender serve the state defence sector. ($1 = 56.2037 roubles) (Reporting by Jack Stubbs and Tatiana Voronova; Editing by Susan Fenton and Alexander Smith)

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