“It is going to be for sale,” said a Czech financier familiar with what is happening in the domestic Sberbank, adding to the plans to get rid of Sberbank Europe. He did not know about the negotiations with AIK Bank. “However, the option was considered that the Czech bank would set aside and the Russians would manage it directly, or would sell it separately,” he added to the possibilities of the Russian state bank’s exit from European markets.
However, the transaction with AIK Bank is not a done deal. The Serbian financial house and Sberbank have agreed on the terms, but the European Central Bank must sanctify the deal. According to one of Mergermarket’s sources, it is examining AIK Bank’s ability to carry out a similar transaction.
According to Mergermarket, Sberbank Europe is significantly larger than AIK Banka, which manages assets worth less than five billion euros, in terms of assets of EUR 12 billion. It is the acquisition of the ECB’s consent that can hinder the whole transaction.
Sberbank Europe did not wish to comment on the matter. “In general, we do not comment on any speculation. Sberbank Europe continues to fulfill its successful business strategy, “said Linda Michalech, Director of Corporate Communications. The Serbian bank reacted in a similar spirit.
According to the E15 daily, Sberbank has been trying to leave Europe for a long time. After the Russian occupation of Crimea and the imposition of sanctions on Russia, plans for expansion in European countries were dashed. In recent years, the head of Sberbank German, Oskarovič Gref, has repeatedly commented on the withdrawal from European markets.
In May 2018, Sberbank sold the Turkish bank Denizbank. Two years earlier, it sold the Slovak Sberbank to the Czech-Slovak investment group Penta.
Strengthening the bank leg
The acquisition of the Sberbank banking business in Europe would make sense for a Serbian bank belonging to the MK Group. “MK Group is an investment group,” says the banker, who did not want to be named. The businessman Miodrag Kostić is behind the group.
The group operates in agriculture, energy, finance and real estate. Its strategy is to reduce positions in agriculture and food and focus on banking. Now the group is probably looking for money, said one of the sources of Mergermarket.
MK Group currently operates in banking in Serbia and Slovenia, where it acquired Gorenjska Banka two years ago. The acquisition of Sberbank Europe would gain access to other markets in Central Europe and the Balkans. Sberbank Europe operates in Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia and, for example, Serbia. The most profitable part of Sberbank Europe is the Czech branch.