Extraordinary shareholders meetings held by Bank Rossiya and Gazenergoprombank decided to merge the lending institutions, the lenders said in a joint press release Tuesday. The final consolidation of the lending institutions is planned for completion in the third quarter of 2010.

“The merger will form a lender that will become one of the largest lending institutions in Russia and will operate on the market under the single brand of Bank Rossiya. Upon completion of the merger procedure Bank Rossiya will become a successor of Gazenergoprombank under all rights and obligations. All obligations taken by Gazenergoprombank will remain valid, the press release pointed out. The merger is being carried out in the interests of clients and shareholders and aims to bolster reliability and financial strength of the bank, improve the quality of services provided and cement market positions. Capitalization of the new lender will provide creditors and deposit holders of both banks with more reliable guarantees. The combined bank’s branch network will span 18 regions in European Russia, which will make more efficient operations with the current customers and sharpen the bank’s appeal for potential clients.

Bank Rossiya is a large bank headquartered in Saint Petersburg that focuses on offering services to big and medium-sized corporate clients. Its major shareholders are: Yury Kovalchuk (28.33%), Nikolai Shamalov and Dmitri Gorelov (11.73% each), Transoil CIS, whose beneficial owner is Gennady Timchenko, holds a 9.58% stake, Severgroup (Alexei Mordashov is its beneficial owner), oil producer Surgutneftegaz (6.59%) and Abros Investment Company (the lender’s subsidiary, 5.9%). Based on Banki.ru data, as of April 1, 2010 Bank Rossiya’s assets stood at Rub 106.7 bln (38th place in Russia), capital (calculated in line with CBR requirements) totaled Rub 11 bln, including the Rub 3.3 bln subordinated loan, the credit portfolio amounted to Rub 39.1 bln and obligations to households equaled Rub 6.4 bln.

Gazenergoprombank was established in 1996 by Gazprom’s subsidiaries in the settlement of Gazoprovod, the Moscow region. Its shareholders are Belregiongaz, Voronezhregiongaz, Ryazanregiongaz, Mezhregiongaz, Peterburgregiongaz, Komiregiongaz and Astrion-Finance, owned by a Cypriot offshore company. Gazprom that earlier held over 30% of the bank’s securities pulled out. Six of nine board members are Mezhregiongaz executives. In line with the lender’s data, Mezhregiongaz’s subsidiary Gazpromregiongaz controls 73.3% of the lending institution. Based on Banki.ru data, as of April 1, 2010 Gazenergoprombank’s assets stood at Rub 142 bln (29th place in Russia), capital (calculated in line with CBR requirements) totaled Rub 9.8 bln, including the Rub 800 mln subordinated loan, the credit portfolio amounted to Rub 19.8 bln and obligations to households equaled Rub 15.6 bln.