Russian banking top dog about to grab VBI

A Russian institute has got one step closer to acquiring the international branch of one of Austria’s biggest banks.

Bosses of Volksbank AG (ÖVAG) and Moscow-based Sberbank signed a declaration of intent about a takeover of Volksbank International (VBI) yesterday (Thurs). The teams of negotiators refused to reveal an envisaged takeover price.

Business newspapers claim today Sberbank will fork out significantly less than ÖVAG chiefs hoped it would. The Austrian bank – which suffered a pre-tax loss of more than 943 million Euros in 2009 – initially demanded over one billion Euros for VBI. Latest reports have it that officials of Russia’s most powerful bank managed to push the sum to less than 600 million Euros. VBI suffered a loss of 22.37 million Euros last year.

Sberbank has signalised unwillingness to buy VBI Romania due to the poor performance of the department. Hungarian banks have hinted interest in the branch which has troubled ÖVAG for years, Austrian press report today. VBI Romania is the largest department with almost 1,400 staff followed by VBI Hungaria (around 600 employees).

ÖVAG is one of four Austrian bank institutes that applied for and received financial support from the state during the most recent recession to ensure their competitiveness and safety of managed assets. The Republic of Austria provided around one billion Euros to ÖVAG via the Austrian National Bank (OeNB).