Russian company Sberbank Europe has agreed to sell five units in the EEC region to Serbs AIK Banka, Gorenjska Banka of Slovenia and Agri Europe Cyprus for an undisclosed amount, Hungarian news agency MTI reported on November 4. The agreement includes Sberbank Europe units in Bosnia. Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.
Before the deal, Sberbank Europe was present in eight European markets: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia. The bank will keep its unit in the Czech Republic.
“Sberbank Europe AG has decided to reduce its geographic presence in Central and Eastern Europe in order to focus on key markets and explore new business models,” said the lender. “The buyers have a large regional presence as well as a clear vision for future development, supporting the future growth of banks and ensuring that customers will continue to receive services of the same quality,” he added.
The Russian bank has been considering reducing its business operations in Europe for years. This sold its Turkish subsidiary Denizbank two years ago and left the Slovak market in 2018. Europe’s largest bank is also considering surrendering its banking license and close its operations in Ukraine.
The majority Russian state-owned bank entered the region in 2012 with the purchase of the units of Volksbank International for 505 million euros.
Hungary remained a niche market for Sberbank, but the takeover of other units could offer many synergies, Hungarian media reported. The bank’s Russian customer base and the strengthening of Serbian-Hungarian business ties could also be of great value to the buyer, in addition to the bank’s agro-industrial exposure.
Sberbank Magyarorszag had total assets of 511 billion HUF (1.4 billion euros) at the end of 2020, according to public records. The stock of customer loans amounted to HUF 295 billion and customer deposits to HUF 355 billion.
The man behind the acquisition of Sberbank’s regional units is Serbian tycoon Miodrag Kostic. The 62-year-old earned the nickname “King of Sugar” by acquiring a series of sugar factories in Vojvodina and gained a foothold in the financial sector, with MK Group acquiring a majority stake in AIK Banka, the eighth-ninth biggest bank. in Serbia, in 2014.
Kostic became the owner of the Slovenian bank Gorenjska, with a balance sheet total of 2.2 billion euros, slightly higher than that of the Hungarian bank Sberbank in June 2019. Gorenjska Banka is expected to become the third largest banking group in the country after the acquisition. Kostic has yet to reveal his intentions for Hungarian unity.
The transaction is expected to close in 2022, subject to regulatory approval.