Foreign banks rush in to Ukraine
|Viktor Pinchuk is keen to sell Ukrsotsbank
Foreign banks are lining up to follow RZB and BNP Paribas’ lead by acquiring Ukrainian banks. The next to be sold looks set to be Ukrsotsbank, which oligarch Viktor Pinchuk has been looking to sell since the Orange Revolution of December 2004. Erste Bank, OTP, Société Générale and Intesa are all looking to buy the bank, which is Ukraine’s fourth biggest by assets. Ukrsotsbank has attracted foreign banks’ attention thanks to its strong growth in retail lending, with its gross consumer loan portfolio growing by 58% last year.
Pinchuk’s holding company, Interpipe, which is being advised by Merrill Lynch, is asking for $1.2 billion for the bank, according to one buyer adviser, although he thinks it will end up being sold for closer to $1 billion.
Pinchuk first tried to sell the bank last year to Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest private bank. One Ukrainian banker says: “Pinchuk is in selling mode generally. Last year, he was worried that Yulia Timoshenko, then prime minister, was going to go after him.” Negotiations with Alfa Bank reportedly got as far as Alfa advancing about $400 million for the bank.