KOMMERSANT. Market players believe that appointment of Evgeny Stepchenko as Sobinbank’s management board chairman is a sign of the imminent transaction to expand Bank Rossiya’s business via merger with Gazenergoprombank and probably Sobinbank, Kommersant business daily wrote Tuesday.

For the record, the day before the media wired that former Bank Rossiya executive Evgeny Stepchenko was appointed management board chairman at Sobinbank, which is under rehabilitation of Gazenergoprombank. Furthermore, previously sources close to Sobinbank and Gazenergoprombank assured that Bank Rossiya is primarily interested in Gazenergoprombank, while Sobinbank’s acquisition remains an open issue.

“Usually people close to owners or potential buyers take executive positions at rehabilitated banks," said Mikhail Belyaev, general director of Otkritie Financial Corporation that rehabilitates Bank Otkritie (former Russian Development Bank) and Bank Petrovsky (former Bank EEFC). He added that yesterday’s appointment is more likely a sign that arrangements over a deal were made, but have not yet been documented.

Bank Rossiya declined to comment on possible business consolidation with specific banks. But earlier the bank said that “various business integration options are under review, including a merger with another big bank”. Bank Rossiya’s press service reported in relation to yesterday’s appointment of Sobinbank’s executive that “Evgeny Stepchenko got a new job offer and due to this he left the bank”.

According to a source close to Bank Rossiya shareholders, the main goal of yesterday’s appointment is to assess Sobinbank’s real standing to understand whether or not it is reasonable to add the lender to the business merger deal involving Gazenergoprombank.