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Erste buys out Ukraine Prestige Bank partners for $104 mln

Erste Bank AG of Austria, which makes more than half its profit in eastern Europe, bought out its partners in Ukraine Bank for $104 million to assume full control of the lender.

Erste raised its stake in Kiev-based Prestige to 100% from 50.5%, the company said today in an e-mailed statement. Vienna-based Erste agreed in July to pay $37 million for majority control of Prestige. „We are even more convinced about the future growth potential of the market,” Chief Executive Officer Andreas Treichl said in the statement.

Erste hopes to have 4% to 5% of Ukraine's banking market by 2009, the CEO added. The Austrian lender also pledged to more than double its investments in Ukraine. Erste expects to invest €300 million ($396 million) in Prestige by 2010, up from the €118 million that it promised in July. (Bloomberg)