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SocGen and Erste to bid for Hungarian bank branches

Societe Generale SA and Erste Bank der Oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG will both bid for the 13 Hungarian bank branch offices being sold by Általános Értékforgalmi Bank Rt (ÁÉB), weekly HVG reported. ÁÉB Chairman Mikhail Rahimkulov is buying Gazprombank's 25.5% stake in the Hungarian bank to boost his shareholding to 100%. He plans to sell 13 of ÁÉB's 16 branch offices after scrapping a plan to invite bids for the entire bank. Societe Generale, France's third-largest lender, has expanded in East European countries including Russia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovenia. The French bank closed its Hungarian unit in 2001 after failing to turn a profit after four years of operation.