UniCredit Seeks the ‘Right Buyer’ for Kazakhstan Unit ATF Bank
Thursday 20 December 2012
(Bloomberg) – UniCredit SpA (UCG), the biggest western lender in eastern Europe, would sell its Kazakh lender, ATF Bank, if there is an offer by the “right buyer” and its reputation is not put at risk, a company executive said.
“We mentioned always that everything depends on the price,” the head of UniCredit’s eastern European division, Gianni Franco Papa, told journalists in Vienna late yesterday. A sale of the unit, owned by UniCredit’s Bank Austria arm, also depends on who would buy it. “We have also a reputation to defend,” Papa said. The decision would be made by the Milan- based company’s board of directors, he said.
UniCredit is in talks to sell a stake in ATF to a Kazakh investor, a person with knowledge of the matter said last month. It received a $570 mln bid by investors, including the mayor of Almaty, Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported last week without saying where it got the information. Papa declined to elaborate.
UniCredit’s Bank Austria, which owns 99.7% of the fifth-largest Kazakh lender, bought ATF for $2.1 bln in 2007. It has written down the unit’s value as the nation’s banking industry suffered a surge in bad loans.
Papa said ATF bank was now in a better shape. “If I look at the situation three or four years ago and what we achieved in the last couple of years, overall we’re very happy with the performance, compared to before,” he said.