Lender says it will not be future owner of Antipinsky refinery

Russia's largest lender Sberbank does not see itself as the future owner of the Antipinsky oil refinery, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, Sberbank deputy board chairman Anatoly Popov said.

The refinery, which has a capacity of 9 million tonnes per year, filed for bankruptcy in May after having halted operations on several occasions because of a lack of funds to pay for crude oil deliveries. Sberbank had been its main creditor.

"Most importantly - and we repeat this constantly - is that the bank cannot be the ultimate owner of the oil refinery," Popov said at an economic forum in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok. "It must be run by an owner working in the field."

Popov added that the prospect of bankruptcy proceedings for the refinery was high because of its substantial debt and large number of creditors. Claims against the refinery as part of its bankruptcy case amount to more than 346.5 billion roubles ($5.2 billion).

The head of the Antipinsky refinery, the country's largest independent oil-processing plant, told Reuters last month that it was on track to more than double its August output following suspension of its operations for more than two months.

Popov also said the bank hoped to reach an agreement on the debt restructuring of Russian coal and steel producer Mechel by the end of the year.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Rashmi Aich)

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