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KBC acquires 92.5% stake in Russia's Absolut Bank for €761 mln

Belgian bank KBC Group NV said it has acquired 92.5% of Russian bank Absolut for €761 million ($1.036 billion), subject to regulatory approval by the Central Bank of Russia.

Absolut, established in 1993 and based in Moscow, is the seventh largest non-state-owned mortgage lender and offers universal banking services. It posted a net profit of €20 million ($27.2 million) in 2006. Over the full year, total assets were €1.8 billion ($2.45 billion). The bank's total equity was around €200 million in the Q1 of 2007. Absolut has more than 1,600 employees and 39 branches. KBC Group NV intends to keep the current key management in place. „KBC's long-term strategic plans entail further expansion in the markets of emerging Europe,” said KBC's CEO Andre Bergen, adding that „Russia is therefore an extension of our existing presence”. KBC expects the deal to be closed during the Q3 of 2007 and added that it will not affect the group's share buy-back program. The remaining 7.5% of shares are held by part of the World Bank Group. (