Austrian bank Raiffeisen buys Poland’s Polbank

Austrian bank Raiffeisen buys Poland’s Polbank

Vienna:Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) announced it has signed a deal to acquire a majority 70% stake in Polbank, to boost its operations in Poland - central Europe’s largest economy.

Raiffeisen said in a statement on its website Friday that it had reached an agreement with Polbank to acquire 70% of the bank for the price of €490 million ($667 million).

“With its clear focus on retail banking, Polbank is an ideal complement to Raiffeisen Bank Polska," Raiffeisen chief executive Herbert Stepic said after the deal.

“We are creating a broad basis to develop successfully in one of the most solid and most strongly growing economies in Central and Eastern Europe."

Currently a unit of Greece’s EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Polbank will be turned into a licensed Polish bank, before merging with Raiffeisen’s Bank Polska (RBPL) to become Poland’s sixth largest bank with some one million clients, RBI said.

The acquisition was still subject to approval from EU, Polish and Greek regulatory authorities, the bank noted in its statement, adding that the deal was expected to be completed by the end of the year or in early 2012.

RBI also said it did not expect to need to raise new capital in the near future.

Raiffeisen has had a Polish presence since 1991, employing some 3,000 people there, with total assets amounting to about €6.5 billion in the third quarter of 2010.

Polbank has some 2,900 employees catering to 800,000 customers.

At 1155GMT on Friday, RBI’s shares were among the biggest winners at the Vienna stock exchange, up 1.87%.