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OTP shares jump most in five years after stake purchase

Shares of OTP Bank Nyrt had their biggest gain in more than five years after a company owned by Hungary's richest man, Mikhail Rahimkulov, bought a stake in eastern Europe's largest lender. Általános Értékforgalmi Bank Zrt, controlled by Rahimkulov, acquired 5.3 million OTP shares between June 23 and Aug. 11, according to the Web site of PSZÁF, Hungary's financial regulator. The purchase is equivalent to 1.9% of the Budapest-based company's stock. OTP shares surged Ft 445, or 6.8%, to Ft 6965 as of 3:13 p.m. in Budapest. The shares rose the most since January 2001 and headed for a three-month high. The stock, up 12% so far this week, is little changed in 2006. AEB started buying OTP stock in the market again yesterday after purchasing shares the day before, said Balázs Szegner, head of equity trading at Equilor Investment Ltd. in Budapest. More than 3.8 million shares changed hands, almost three times the daily average this year. About 3 million shares were traded in the previous session. OTP, which has spent $2.4 billion buying banks in eastern Europe the past five years, is attracting investors after saying this week it won't bid for Austria's Bawag PSK Bank. The announcement eased concern that OTP will sell shares to fund expansion. Rahimkulov, a former executive at OAO Gazprom, is Hungary's richest man with a personal wealth of Ft 83 billion ($385 million), according to a list compiled by the daily Népszabadság on Oct 12. Rahimkulov also owns 23% of BorsodChem Rt, central Europe's largest maker of PVC plastic. (Bloomberg)