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Gazprom bank buys Russia's Sobinbank

A bank founded by Russian gas giant Gazprom has bought one of Russia's top 50 banks, the latest purchase of a privately-owned bank by state-related structures as Russia fights the credit crisis.

Gazenergoprombank, whose website says it was “founded by structures included in the Gazprom group,” said in a statement late on Wednesday it bought 100% of Sobinbank. It did not disclose the price.

“The agreement was reached on Oct 15, 2008 with direct participation and support from the Bank of Russia,” Russia's central bank, the Gazenergoprombank statement said.

Sobinbank also owned a minority stake in a smaller bank, Finservis, and 100% of Russian Mortgage Bank, with a mortgage portfolio of 11.3 billion roubles ($432.5 million).

Sobinbank was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this month, state diamond miner Alrosa and the state railways monopoly bought Russian investment bank KIT Finance for a symbolic price of 100 roubles.

State-run Development Bank, formerly known as Vneshekonombank (VEB), bought Svyaz Bank for no more than 5,000 roubles.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who chairs Alrosa, defended the rescues, saying they were necessary to calm the banking sector. (Reuters)