OREANDA-NEWS. VTB Bank has opened a RUB 800 million credit line for Agro-Invest, one of Russia’s leading agricultural holdings. The company is expected to use the facility to expand production, and in particular to purchase fuel, fertilisers and crop-protection agents. To date, Agro-Invest has used RUB 250 million of this credit line.

Agro-Invest is part of Black Earth Farming holding, investors in which include Swedish AB Kinnevik and Vostok Nafta Investment. The group currently comprises 32 Russian companies. This VTB deal is the first time that Black Earth Farming has raised funding from a Russian bank.

Richard Warburton, Black Earth Farming’s CEO and President, provided the following statement: "The opening of a rouble credit line with VTB Bank is an important step towards diversifying BEF’s sources of funding and towards reducing the Company’s reliance on hard currency liabilities. This credit facility also opens up access for the Company to important subsidies, better suited to its working capital cycle, and will help in building long-term partnership with a leading Russian government bank."

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Agro-Invest was established in 2005, and has counted Swedish AB Kinnevik and Vostok Nafta Investment among its investors since 2007. Today, these investment companies are the biggest shareholders in Black Earth Farming, which, in terms of Russian laws regarding corporate consolidation, is viewed as the ultimate owner (listed on Nasdaq OMX Stockholm). As of April 1, 2015, the company’s market capitalization was equal to USD 102 million. In 2014, the company produced 530,000 tonnes of crops. The holding has the capacity to store up to 676,000 tonnes of grain crops, while the area of the agricultural lands used by Agro-Invest exceeds 271,000 hectares. Of this total, it owns 242,000 hectares. The holding succeeded in obtaining high-quality agricultural lands in a number of Russian regions, including the Lipetsk, Voronezh, Tambov and Lipetsk regions. It focuses on growing corn, sunflowers, wheat, oil rape, soy, barley and more.