Cyprus Mail
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Central bank request by Russian investor for Laiki’s Serbian unit pending

(Adds more comment from Kim’s spokesperson in sixth paragraph)

By Stelios Orphanides

Expobank Cz A.S., the Czech lender owned by the Russian national Igor Vladimirovich Kim which agreed to buy defunct Laiki’s Serbian unit, has not yet applied to get the deal approved, the National Bank of Serbia said.

igor-kim“Expobank Cz A.S has expressed interest to enter the banking sector of the Republic of Serbia, but the official request to obtain prior consent for the acquisition of ownership in a bank in the Republic of Serbia has still not been submitted to the National Bank of Serbia,” the Serbian banking supervisor said in an emailed statement on Friday in response to a Cyprus Business Mail question.

“Granting of prior consent of the National Bank of Serbia for the acquisition of ownership in a bank which carries over 5 per cent of voting rights is regulated by legislation, as well as by internal acts and procedures”.

The National Bank of Serbia said that it will decide within 60 days after receiving an application to obtain Marfin whether or not it will give its approval.

Chris Pavlou, the administrator of the remaining assets of Cyprus Popular Bank, as Laiki was officially known, said last week that he had reached an agreement to sell the failed lenders subsidiary in Serbia, Marfin Bank A.D. Beograd. According to a statement issued to the media on September 30, Laiki agreed with Expobank to sell its stake in the Serbian lender which accounts for 99.1 per cent of its paid share capital and 72.5 per cent of preference stock.

According to Serbia’s Blic.rs news-site, Kim’s wealth is estimated at around $1bn.

According to the Czech lender’s website Kim is also Expobank’s chairman, sole shareholder of AS Expobank (Latvia), and owner of a majority stake in Expobank LLC (Russia), and SKS Bank LLC (Russia). A spokesperson for the Russian banker said that Kim, a holder of economic cybernetics, has over 23 years’ experience in banking when he became deputy chairman of the management board of Russkiy Narodniy Bank in Novosibirsk.

Russia’s Expobank which acquired the Russian subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland in April, is planning to merge by the end of the year, the spokesperson said.

According to Blic.rs, Kim was the sole investor who showed interest to acquire Privredna Banka Beograd when it was already insolvent before the National Bank of Serbia revoked the bank’s licence in October 2013. Marfin’s market share in Serbia is 1 per cent and was known for offering attractive interest rates to depositors and its capital currently amounts at 2.8billion Serbian dinars (€23m), according to the Serbian news-site.

The deal to sell Marfin to Expobank was struck on September 30, seventeen days after the Central Bank of the Russian Federation revoked the licence of Laiki’s lossmaking unit in Russia Rosprombank, citing violations of the anti-money laundering and terrorist financing law. Pavlou said on Wednesday that gunmen belonging to Russian organised crime gangs gained access in headquarters of Rosprombank on two occasions and held its director for several hours. A day later, he said that Laiki’s partner in Rosprombank, OAO RPB-Holding, which had the responsibility for the management, mismanaged the bank.

While the price of the transaction has not been disclosed, Pavlou said last week that the revenue from the sale of the bank’s assets was corroded by legal fees and other expenses.

Pavlou was not immediately available for a comment.

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