Brussels, Belgium, April 18, 2007 --
KBC and the shareholders of Absolut Bank reached agreement for KBC to acquire
92.5 percent of Absolut Bank, one of the leading independent mortgage lenders
IFC (the International Finance Corporation), the private sector arm of
the World Bank Group, which holds the remaining 7.5 percent of the shares,
has now decided to sell 2.5 percent of its shareholding to KBC, thus bringing
KBC’s stake in Absolut Bank to 95 percent. IFC will retain a 5 percent
shareholding in Absolut Bank.
The acquisition of Absolut Bank is still subject to the regulatory approval
of the Central Bank of Russia and the Antitrust Commission. KBC
expects the deal to be closed during the third quarter of 2007.
Jan Vanhevel, CEO of the Central and Eastern Europe Business Unit at KBC
Group welcomed today’s agreement, saying, “Absolut Bank is one of the
fastest-growing banks in Russia and has doubled its loan book year after
year for the last five years. For KBC, the acquisition constitutes a logical
and important step in our international expansion. Having established a
strong presence in a number of first- and second-wave EU-accession countries,
KBC is now entering a new emerging European market. KBC is very pleased
to be able to rely on IFC’s long-standing experience and thorough knowledge
of the Russian banking market.”
Since 1993, IFC has invested $3.4 billion in debt and equity in Russia,
including $527 million in syndicated loans, in over 130 projects across
a variety of sectors. IFC’s investment portfolio in Russia currently stands
at $2 billion, making it the largest country exposure for IFC globally.
“IFC is very pleased to start a partnership with KBC Bank in Russia and
is looking forward to further developing Absolut Bank, one of the most
successful private banks in the country,” commented Jerome Sooklal, IFC’s
Director for Central and Eastern Europe.
The recent press release about the acquisition and more information about
KBC Group are available on www.kbc.com.
More information about Absolut Bank can be found at www.absolutbank.com.