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OTP says credit crunch could create takeover chances

OTP Bank, one of the biggest listed firms in Central Europe, told Reuters that the recent credit crunch could cost it more to borrow but may also create good takeover opportunities as others struggle with financing.

OTP Bank Nyrt, which finished an acquisition spree worth over $1 billion in 2006, is having difficulty with some new units, particularly Serbia and Russia, Chief Financial Officer László Urbón told the Reuters Central European Investment Summit. But any deviation from its Ft 211.6 billion ($1.21 billion) profit target this year would be small. „There is margin of error everywhere and the margin of error is 2% on annual profit,” Urbán told the RCEIS.

„Any underperformance will be within that margin of error... (and) if we were to miss by 2%, that shouldn't justify significant (forecast) revisions.” Urbán said the Russian unit, which has a new management, made progress in the Q3 and could catch up to targets but Serbia, where OTP is merging three small banks, remains a problem. In Russia, OTP is seeking a small regional bank with around 40 branches worth around $50 million and a deal may be announced as early as this year although financial closing will certainly slip into 2008, Urbán said. (The full text of the story )