Russian state-owned bank Sberbank is not looking to buy the Eastern European assets of Austrian bank Raiffeisen and it is still in talks to buy the Eastern European branches of Volksbank, Sberbank CEO Herman Gref told reporters on Wednesday.
The Financial Times reported last week that Sberbank was studying the possibility of acquiring Raiffeisen's Eastern European businesses, but Gref denied this in a news conference at the World Economic Forum on Europe and Central Asia in Vienna.
"We are talking about a deal that would include Volksbank International," he told the news conference, refusing to disclose more details about the stage of the talks.
"Interest in Raiffeisenwas not the right information," he added.
Sberbank, with 70 million customers and subsidiaries in Central Asia, "lacks the competitive edge" to become a global bank and should be put into private hands, Gref added.
"Sberbank was one of the old Russian state banks that got zero capital as help from the central bank or the state," he said.
"We must be privatized becausewe need strong competition in our markets," Gref added.