UPDATE 1-Shares in Russia's TCS bank slide on report of card issuance risk

Olga Popova and Maya Dyakina
Friday, 15 Nov 2013 | 7:12 AM ET

* Amendments may hit branchless banks - report

* TCS says does not mass-mail credit cards

* Shares fall by up to a third

* Bank raised $1 billion in recent London IPO

(Adds company statement, lawmaker, analyst, context)

MOSCOW, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Shares in Russian online bank TCS slumped by as much as a third in value on Friday on a newspaper report that parliament is considering proposals to make it harder for banks which do not have branches to issue credit cards.

TCS said, however, that proposed amendments to a consumer credit bill were not targeted at its use of couriers to distribute cards, but to prevent unsolicited mass mailings.

"TCS does not send unsolicited credit cards to Russian consumers," the company said in a statement issued through the London Stock Exchange.

Earlier, the Kommersant daily reported that the finance committee of the State Duma lower house had approved amendments to a to consumer lending bill that would require cards to be issued at a bank office.

Traders said the proposal appeared to be targeted at the business model of TCS, which was founded by brewing-to-restaurants entrepreneur Oleg Tinkov and recently raised $1 billion when it floated on the London Stock Exchange.

"Its business model is at risk," said Mikhail Kotov, a trader at Alfa-bank.

In its statement, TCS said the new clause in the consumer lending bill "has been misinterpreted by some commentators" to mean cards would have to be collected by customers at a fixed location, such as a branch. The bill, which faces a second reading, is likely to undergo further amendments, it said.

Lawmaker Anatoly Aksakov, a member of the Duma finance committee, said a drafting error had crept into the text of the amendments. He told Reuters they would allow cards to be picked up by, or delivered to, clients.

Tinkov, a serial entrepreneur often compared to Britain's Richard Branson, put a brave face on the situation: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I believe. Everything will be fine," he tweeted.


Tinkov, who founded the bank in 2007, has built a fast-growing online franchise, distributing credit cards by courier and focusing on provincial towns neglected by bigger banks. TCS had 3.5 million credit cards in issue by the end of June.

Some analysts said, however, that TCS's London initial public offering (IPO), which valued the business at $3.2 billion - or an estimated five times book value - was overvalued despite the company's dynamic growth.

East Capital, an eastern Europe-focused fund management group that manages more than $5 billion in investments, said in a note to clients this week that it had sold the shares it had bought in the TCS IPO.

"We participated in the listing but later sold, as we found the valuation excessive compared to peers, and increased our exposure to Sberbank instead," Stockholm-based East Capital wrote in the Nov. 13 note.

Large state banks have come late to the consumer credit market and, say some analysts, have made use of their so-called administrative resources to influence regulation to make life more difficult for their competitors.

Gazprombank banking analyst Andrey Klapko said the goal was not to put TCS out of business. "There is no goal to kill the business and ban remote sales. But they want to identify clients," he said.

TCS's global depositary receipts, or proxy shares, traded at $11.13 at 1130 GMT, down 29 percent on the session. It placed the GDRs at $17.50 apiece, at the top of an offer range, at the Oct. 22 share sale.

After the IPO, Tinkov remains majority owner with a stake of 50.9 percent. Backers Goldman Sachs, Baring Vostok, Vostok Nafta and Horizon Capital retain stakes of 4.5 percent, 2.9 percent, 4.8 percent and 1.4 percent respectively. ($1 = 0.7430 euros)

(Additional reporting by Oksana Kobzeva and Katya Golubkova; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Pravin Char)