Austria's OeVAG sells EEurope arm to Russia's Sberbank

15th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Austrian bank OeVAG said it had agreed to sell its eastern European arm, Volksbank International, to Sberbank of Russia for an undisclosed sum later this year.

Oesterreichische Volksbanken-AG said in a statement late on Thursday that it had reached a "commercial understanding with Sberbank on the major terms of the sale of Volksbank International."

The two sides said they expected to close the deal -- which would not include Volksbank International's biggest subsidiary, VB Romania -- by the end of 2011.

OeVAG holds a 51-percent stake in Volksbank International, with the remainder held by BPCE of France and DZ Bank and WGZ Bank of Germany.

The sale received the go-ahead from the other shareholders, OeVAG said.

OeVAG is Austria's fourth-biggest bank after Bank Austria, Erste Bank and Raiffeisen Bank, and received a total one billion euros in aid as part of a 100-billion-euro state bailout for the entire banking sector in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.

According to the financial daily WirtschaftsBlatt, the Austrian bank has failed the EU's critical stress tests designed to reveal which lenders, if any, would not have strong enough balance sheets to withstand a new shock in the financial system.

The results of the stress tests are set to be published later on Friday.

Earlier this year, OeVAG, which is not listed on the stockmarket, bundled all of its banking activities into its existing Investkreditbank unit to streamline its structure.

At the end of last year, Volksbank International had total assets of 13.73 billion euros ($19.5 billion) and posted a net loss of 22.37 million euros,

It employs a workforce of 5,362 in 547 branches in 10 different countries.

The loss-making Romanian subsidiary is the biggest, with 1,373 employees.

Sberbank, Russia's biggest bank, aims to acquire all of VBI and expects to wrap up the formalities by the end of this month, the Ria Novosti news agency quoted its chief German Gref as saying in Moscow.

VBI would serve as a springboard to further expansion in Europe, Gref was quoted as saying.

© 2011 AFP

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