09:48 28.03.2017

Sberbank of Russia sells subsidiary in Ukraine to Latvia's Norvik Bank and Belarusian private company

Sberbank of Russia sells subsidiary in Ukraine to Latvia's Norvik Bank and Belarusian private company

Sberbank of Russia has announced the plan to sell 100% in the Ukrainian subsidiary bank to a consortium of investors, which will include Latvia's Norvik Banka and a Belarusian private company, the corresponding legally binding agreement was signed on March 27, Sberbank of Russia has said.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2017 after getting approval for the transaction from the financial and antitrust regulators of the relevant jurisdictions, including Latvia and Ukraine.

"PJSC Sberbank (Ukraine) has necessary funds to fulfill its obligations to private and corporate clients. We hope the decision to sell our subsidiary bank will help unblock its offices and resume normal operation, which will allow the bank's customers to continue using the services and create the basis for its further development," Sberbank of Russia said.

"Due to the quick sale of the bank a loss on investments into the capital of the subsidiary bank will be reflected in the financial results of PJSC Sberbank under RAS. At the same time, the effect of the deal on the consolidated IFRS results of Sberbank Group will not be material," Sberbank said.

The main buyer of Sberbank's Ukrainian subsidiary will be Said Gutseriev, the son of Russian tycoon and owner of Russneft oil company Mikhail Gutseriev, Norvik Banka said in a press release.

"Today AS Norvik Banka and its main shareholder, British citizen Grigory Guselnikov, have signed an agreement on participation in an investment consortium to acquire the Ukrainian division of Russia's Sberbank. British citizen Said Gutseriev and the Belarusian company he owns have become the majority shareholder of the new consortium," the Latvian bank said in a press release.

"This deal will make it possible to offer Ukrainian clients service built on European principles of quality, transparency and accessibility, while maintaining the technological level of the bank created by Sberbank of Russia," Norvik Banka said.

Along with the main deal, Norvik Banka is planning a number of measures to reduce its presence in the Russian banking market, where it owns Norvik Bank.

"This will make it possible to increase the effectiveness of investments and eliminate a number of political risks related to the geography of the bank's operations. The diversity of investors will make it possible to form a balanced consortium that will take into account the interests of all parties involved, which will make it possible to effectively develop the bank in European markets and Belarus," Norvik Banka said.

"The bank being acquired has excellent infrastructure," in which former owner Sberbank of Russia" invested hundreds of millions of dollars," Said Gutseriev was quoted as saying.

"This is a solid foundation for development and quality growth of the project. My experience suggests that by deciding to participate in it all of the members of the consortium are making a very farsighted and lucrative investment, and this will enable the bank itself to take a big step forward and implement many advanced projects, not only in Ukraine but in the neighboring European countries as well," Gutseriev said in the press release.

The press release does not say anything about Gutseriev's family ties, but the background cited - studies at Harrow School and Oxford University and work at commodities trader Glencore - coincide completely with the CV of the son of Russneft's owner. Said Gutseriev spoke about his life in the UK in an interview with Forbes last year.

The elder Gutseriev also had been living in the UK for several years after a criminal investigation was launched against him in Russia in 2006. Subsequently it was Sberbank CEO Herman Gref whom Gutseriev thanked in an interview with Vedomosti, along with JSFC Sistema owner Vladimir Yevtushenkov, for helping to get the charges dropped so that he could return to Russia.

"I would like to thank all partners who made this possible. I am confident that today's agreement will make it possible to turn a new page in the development of Ukraine's financial system and open up new development horizons for AS Norvik Banka," Guselnikov was quoted as saying.

Guselnikov became the majority shareholder of Norvik Banka, Latvia's eighth largest bank by assets, in 2014.

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