Russian grocer Magnit Group has secured a RUB300m (US$11m) loan from state bank VTB as part of a government-backed programme to support the country's retailers.

Magnit, one of ten Russian food retail companies that have sought a loan from two of the country's state banks, requested the loan in a bid to help the company through the current financial crisis.

Magnit, Russia's second-largest food retailer, received the first tranche from VTB on Monday (27 October), and is expected to receive around RUR2.5bn in total, to be channelled into the retailer's working capital.

"I'd like to highlight VTB's prompt decision-making and highly professional approach to implementing this project which, I hope, will be a good start for our mutually reinforcing strategic partnership," said Magnit financial director Khachatur Pambukhchan.

The loans from state banks Sberbank and VTB are part of a package - dubbed the State Retail Chain Support Program - worth more than $200bn and assembled by the Russian government in an effort to ease the impact of the global financial crisis.

Other retailers applying for the loans include X5 Retail Group, Dixy, Mosmart, Victoria, Kopeika, Lenta, Holiday, and O'Key.

In a bid to develop business with the retail industry, VTB has a pipeline of around RUR18bn in financing requests from the leading retail companies. The average annual interest rate will be about 18% based on preliminary indications, VTB said.

Sberbank is also understood to be looking to provide funding.

Dixy told just-food today (29 October) that it was "in the process of negotiations" with the bank. X5 Retail and Seventh Continent were unavailable for comment.