Sberbank has become interested in buying retail assets of Merlion, which is engaged in IT distribution. According to Kommersant, citing a closed source, the bank is seeking to acquire the network of electronics stores Citylink and Positronic, as well as the service centers of the Network of Computer Clinics. Another source claims that the bank conducted a pre-sale audit of Merlion.
There is no official confirmation of the possible sale of retail chains yet. Merlion representatives said that negotiations on the sale of the mentioned assets are not currently underway. They also argue that no assessment has been made of the company’s financial condition.
In September 2020, Sberbank President German Gref announced that they “Never considered buying retail retailers”, noting that the company is focused on developing its online business. Nevertheless, the general director of Infoline-Analytica Mikhail Burmistrov called the bank’s interest in the retail assets of Merlion logical because of the divorce from Yandex, after which Yandex.Market was transferred to a former partner. The expert also said that the purchase of Citylink will allow Sber to compete in online retail with Ozon and Wildberries.
Burmistrov stressed that the price of “Citylink”, according to the most conservative estimates, starts at $ 1 billion, but noted that in the event of a sale, the owners will expect more.
In November 2020, three co-owners of Merlion, Oleg Karchev, Vladislav Mangutov and Alexey Abramov, became involved in a criminal case. The Khoroshevsky District Court arrested them on suspicion of murder committed by a group of persons in 2015. They are also charged with the intentional destruction of other people’s property, which entailed the death of a person. The total term of imprisonment can be up to 25 years.
Despite the scandal, in December 2020 Sberbank announced a strategic partnership with Merlion. The bank stated that “Merlion’s capabilities will be integrated into the emerging e-commerce industry of Sberbank»For the convenience of B2B and B2C clients.
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