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Gazenergobank, controlled by energy giant Gazprom,
Gazenergobank, controlled by energy giant Gazprom, is to buy a 100% stake in ailing Soyuz Bank from Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska's industrial holding Basic Element (BasEl), a source close to the deal said on Tuesday.

"The bank will be acquired wholesale, otherwise the deal would be senseless," the source said.

BasEl confirmed to RIA Novosti that the industrial group was looking for an investor for the struggling bank.

Soyuz Bank, one of Russia's top fifty banks until recently, has been hit hard by the credit crunch amid the ongoing global financial crisis. The international rating agency Standard & Poor's on Monday downgraded Soyuz Bank's long-term credit rating to B- from B and its national scale rating to ruBBB- from ruA with a negative outlook.

S&P said in comments that the rating downgrade reflected the considerable deterioration of the bank's liquidity, run on deposits and large losses from securities operations amid the persisting financial turmoil on the Russian financial market.

Soyuz Bank will be the second lender to be purchased by Gazenergobank. On October 27 the bank acquired a 100% stake in Sobinbank, which had also struggled since the credit crunch.


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