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UniCredit plans to buy rest of HVB, Bank Austria in squeeze-out

UniCredit SpA, Italy's biggest bank by assets, said it plans to buy the shares it doesn't already own in its HVB Group and Bank Austria Creditanstalt units in a so-called squeeze-out.

Milan-based UniCredit SpA will squeeze out the minority investors by seeking to buy their minority stakes at a „fair cash” price, it said in a stock exchange statement yesterday. The bank owns 95% of HVB Group and 94.8% of Bank Austria Creditanstalt, it said.

It didn't give the value of the offer and said the price will be reviewed by independent experts. UniCredit bought HVB for about €14 billion ($18.2 billion) in November 2005, giving it more than 28 million customers in 19 European countries. The bank is expanding in eastern Europe, where lending is growing faster than in the nations sharing the euro. (Bloomberg)