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Ukraine: UniCredit’s bank-buying spree continues

UniCredit continues to expand its operations in central and eastern Europe, with the acquisitive Italian banking group turning its gaze towards Ukraine in July. Bank Austria Creditanstalt (BA-CA), which is responsible for UniCredit’s commercial banking activities in central and eastern Europe, has signed an agreement to buy 95% of Ukrsotsbank (USB), Ukraine’s fourth-largest bank by assets. The deal follows June’s $1.5 billion purchase of a controlling stake in Kazakhstan’s ATF Bank and the acquisition of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s 10% stake in Russia’s International Moscow Bank for $229 million.

The purchase will reinforce UniCredit’s presence in the fast-growing Ukrainian banking market, where it already has two subsidiaries – HVB Ukraine and UniCredit Bank – that focus on corporate banking. Pending regulatory approval, the $2.2 billion transaction, which values USB at a price-to-book value of around 4.1 times, should be completed by the end of the year. Credit Suisse acted as financial adviser to UniCredit, and Merrill Lynch advised vendor Interpipe.

Italian rival Intesa Sanpaolo had previously hoped to buy the bank but failed to agree a final purchase price with Interpipe owner Viktor Pinchuk, a son-in-law of former president Leonid Kuchma. Intesa offered $1.4

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