Swedbank to pull out of Russia, Ukraine, focus on home markets

STOCKHOLM Mon Apr 1, 2013 6:59am EDT

People walk past a Swedbank branch in Riga February 14, 2012. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

People walk past a Swedbank branch in Riga February 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ints Kalnins

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish bank Swedbank (SWEDa.ST) said on Monday it will discontinue operations in Russia and sell its Ukrainian subsidiary, leaving it to focus on its home markets.

"This is the final step in our strategy to concentrate Swedbank's business activities (on) Sweden and the three Baltic countries," Chief Executive Michael Wolf said in a statement.

It said it would cease all new business in Russia and wind down existing operations. Its net lending there is approximately 2.6 billion Swedish crowns ($400 million).

It plans to exit Ukraine before mid-year under a share purchase agreement signed with Mykola Lagun, the majority owner of local lender Delta Bank. Swedbank announced plans to close its retail operations there in 2011.

As a result of the transaction, Swedbank will report impairments of approximately 340 million crowns ($52 million) in its first quarter earnings.

Several banks from Western Europe have left or reduced their exposure to Ukraine. Both Swedish rival SEB (SEBa.ST) and Germany's Commerzbank sold their Ukrainian subsidiaries last year.

(Reporting by Mia Shanley; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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