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KBC to stay in E Europe, prefers no capital hike

Belgian finance group KBC said it aimed to keep growing in central and eastern Europe and did not plan to pay back €7 billion ($10.2 billion) of state aid through a capital increase.

KBC said it had submitted its five-year business plan to the European Commission and expected the latter to make a decision by the end of the year. The banking and insurance group said it would be able to provide more details at that point. It has scheduled an investor day for December 4. Chief executive Jan Vanhevel said that KBC intended to keep its main growth options in central and eastern Europe, a second home market for the group.

He said the risk profile in the countries where KBC is involved -- chiefly Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia -- was lower than in the Baltics, the Balkans and former Soviet markets where it had a limited presence.

Bad debt levels for KBC in the region were increasing, but provisioning charges were stabilizing. (Reuters)