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Russian watchdog asks Alfa Capital to withdraw research note on banks

MOSCOW, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service said on Thursday it will order a unit of Alfa Bank, one of the country's largest lenders, to withdraw a research note on the Russian banking sector it published earlier this week.

Russian business daily Vedomosti reported on Wednesday that a wealth manager at Alfa Capital had said in a note to clients that they should be vigilant when buying assets issued by a number of Russian banks.

The deputy head of Russia's Antimonopoly Service (FAS), Andrei Kashevarov, said the watchdog was preparing a warning to Alfa Capital on unlawful competition practices based on a letter the institution had received from the central bank.

"Alfa Capital will have to recall this letter from all the recepients and present evidence to FAS that the letter has been recalled," Kashevarov told Reuters by telephone, referring to the research note.

Alfa Bank and its unit Alfa Capital both said on Wednesdday that the research note was the personal opinion of its author and that the bank and the asset management company did not share this opinion.

The health of banks is a sensitive issue for Russia after the central bank conducted a purge of lenders. (Writing by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Adrian Croft)