Russian Tycoon Buys Stakes in Western Banks: Paper

Bank shares rose on Wednesday after a report that Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov is buying stakes in major Western banks and wants other tycoons to join him.

Kerimov has been selling his Russian assets, including stakes in the country's biggest bank Sberbank and gas giant Gazprom, to buy stakes in Deutsche, UBS, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, Kommersant business daily said, quoting sources.

Deutsche shares rose 1.7 percent to 62.99 euros, UBS was up 0.8 percent and Credit Suisse gained 0.6 percent.

One source in a major investment bank told Kommersant that Kerimov, Russia's 8th richest man and a member of the upper house of the Russian parliament, owned 3 percent of Deutsche at the end of last year.

"Kerimov now continues to increase his stake in Deutsche Bank and plans to take it to 9 percent," a source familiar with Kerimov's plans told Kommersant.

Other sources said Kerimov's holdings in other banks amount to about 1 percent.

Deutsche Bank said it was aware of only two shareholders with stakes of more than 3 percent, British bank Barclays and French insurer AXA.

The spokesman declined further comment on a report.

A Deutsche spokesman in Moscow said the bank is obliged to disclose when someone buys more than 3 percent of the shares.

"We have not made such disclosures," he said.

Kerimov's investment vehicle Nafta Moskva declined to comment.

Kommersant sources said Kerimov is discussing plans to buy stakes in Western banks with other tycoons and wants to bring them on board.

Top Russian officials recently called on businessmen to buy cheap Western assets.

Oil-rich Russia does not yet have its own sovereign wealth fund capable of large-scale private equity investment.

However, tycoons who made fortunes during hasty privatizations in the 90s, often act with Kremlin's blessing.