EEMEA market round up: KBC buys in Russia
Belgian bancassurance player KBC has become the latest foreign bank to buy into Russia. Late in April it agreed to pay up to €761 million to acquire at least 92.5% of Absolut Bank, 3.8 times the book value. It is the biggest banking M&A deal in Russia. Absolut Bank is one of the fastest-growing banks in Russia and has doubled its loan book on an annual basis for the past five years. "Over the past decade, KBC has built up a strong presence in many of the countries that joined the EU in May 2004 and January 2007. KBC’s long-term strategic plans entail further expansion in the markets of emerging Europe. Russia is therefore an extension of our existing presence in neighbouring central and eastern Europe," says André Bergen, KBC Group chief executive.