TPG Buys Into Russian Supermarket Chain

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Private equity firm TPG Capital and the private equity arm of Russian state bank VTB (VTBR.MM) bought a large stake in Russian hypermarket chain Lenta, banking sources told Reuters on Monday.

Their comments followed a report in Kommersant business daily that TPG and VTB had teamed up to buy 35.4 percent in Lenta for between $110 million and $115 million. TPG Capital, VTB Capital and Lenta declined comment.

Lenta had earlier planned to tender an 89 percent stake in the company belonging to its key private shareholders with the exception of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which owns the remaining 11 percent.

Sources had named Wal-Mart (WMT.N), the world biggest retailer, as well as France’s Carrefour (CARR.PA) as the main potential bidders.

TPG and VTB bought the stake from Oleg Zherebtzov, the founder of Lenta, who scrapped an earlier option agreement on the share sale with private equity fund Marshall Capital Partners, Kommersant reported.

Lenta is Russia’s fifth largest retailer with 36 hypermarkets in 17 cities and had sales of $2.34 billion in 2008.

(Reporting by Dmitry Sergeyev; Editing by David Holmes)