October 20, 2015 / 5:23 PM / in 2 years

UPDATE 2-Russia's Lenta launches $150 million share sale to speed growth

* Company will seek to place GDRs representing newly issued shares

* Books for sale already covered, financial market source says

* Co can open at least 40 hypermarkets in 2016 if sale successful (Adds detail on new openings in 2016, bookbuilding)

MOSCOW, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Russian budget hypermarket chain Lenta on Tuesday launched a share offering and said it was looking to raise around $150 million to accelerate its expansion.

The sale is the second time Lenta has sought to raise money on equity markets in 2015, following a $225 million share sale in March.

Lenta, whose shares closed up almost 3 percent in London, said it will seek to place global depositary receipts (GDRs) representing newly issued shares. It gave no price for the new stock.

Russian companies are grappling with a weak economy and high inflation after Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, but analysts expect budget retailers such as Lenta to gain market share as price-conscious shoppers flock to low-price stores.

If the share sale is successful, Lenta said it would be able to open at least 40 new hypermarkets next year, more than it previously forecast, and said it expected to achieve similar or higher rates of hypermarket openings in 2017 and beyond.

It added that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development also planned to sell around $100 million worth of its shares in Lenta, with an option to increase the sale to $150 million.

“Lenta believes that the current economic conditions are conducive to further accelerating its organic growth, in part as real estate prices have become more attractive and some competitors have curtailed their growth plans,” it said.

Lenta said an accelerated bookbuilding process would be launched immediately following the announcement. A financial market source said books for the share sale were already covered by Tuesday evening.

Credit Suisse, JP Morgan and VTB Capital are acting as joint global coordinators and bookrunners for the share sale. (Reporting by Alexander Winning and Olga Popova; Editing by David Holmes)

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