UniCredit may announce Kazakh bank sale as early as Friday: sources

ALMATY/MILAN Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:57pm EDT

Italian UnicreditBanca bank in Rome February 20, 2008. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Italian UnicreditBanca bank in Rome February 20, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

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ALMATY/MILAN (Reuters) - UniCredit (CRDI.MI), Italy's biggest bank by assets, could announce the sale of its Kazakhstan unit ATF Bank ATFB.KZ as early as Friday, three sources familiar with the matter said.

UniCredit will announce towards the end of a release that it has sold ATF though there will be no details on price, one of the sources familiar with the deal said.

"You have to wait until tomorrow for more information and better visibility," a second source said on Thursday.

The Italian lender is due to present its 2012 results on Friday.

In January, sources told Reuters that UniCredit may sell ATF Bank to a firm owned by Kazakh businessman Galimzhan Yesenov for about $500 million.

UniCredit declined to comment.

The first source said that when price terms are declared, possibly in April, UniCredit will have to take half of ATF's nonperforming loans.

The Italian lender, which has a strong presence in central and eastern Europe, has been cutting jobs, shedding branches and selling assets as it tries to restore profitability after being hit hard by the euro zone debt crisis.

In December, UniCredit's head for central and eastern Europe, Gianni Franco Papa, said it could sell its Kazakh unit if the price was right.

(Reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva, Stephen Jewkes, Lisa Jucca and Sophie Sassard; Editing by Danilo Masoni and Dale Hudson)

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