VILNIUS - The Bank of Lithuania's board has given its approval for Vilniaus Bankas to purchase over 90 percent in Ukraine's Agio Bank, leaving one last obstacle in the country's largest commercial bank's eastward expansion drive. On Oct. 25 Vilniaus Bankas received permission from Ukraine's Competition Committee to acquire the bank.
Finalization of the transaction is expected after Ukraine's central bank approves the deal, which should be before the end of the year.
Vilniaus Bankas, which is owned by Sweden's SEB group, announced its intentions to purchase a majority holding in Agio Bank in early October. At the time the bank noted that overall investment in the strategic acquisition would reach 80 million litas (23.2 million euros), including the amount payable for the shares.
The purchase was a part of SEB's plans to strengthen the group's positions in the dynamic East European market, and to offer adequate services to customers in the region, Vilniaus Bankas management said. Over 6,000 corporate clients of the SEB group, including 700 Vilniaus Bankas customers, are engaged in Ukraine business activities.
Agio Bank, a retail bank established in 1991, ranks 53rd in Ukraine in terms of assets. As of late June, the bank's assets amounted to almost 58 million euros, while the loan portfolio stood at 26.4 million euros and equity totaled 13.8 million euros.
The Vilniaus Bankas group reported 97.7 million litas (28.3 million euros) in net earnings for the first nine months of 2004, a rise of 15.8 percent year-on-year. The group's assets increased by 13 percent to 9.7 billion litas, while its loan portfolio expanded by 16 percent to 5.5 billion litas, and total deposits rose by 14 percent to over 5.5 billion litas.