Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo in talks to sell Ukrainian lender -source

KIEV, July 23 Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:11am EDT

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KIEV, July 23 (Reuters) - Italy's biggest retail bank Intesa Sanpaolo is in talks to sell its Ukrainian subsidiary Pravex-bank, a source close to the talks told Reuters on Tuesday.

Ukraine's banking sector was hit hard by the 2008 devaluation of the hryvnia, which made it hard for many borrowers to repay loans denominated in foreign currency and prompted a number of western European lenders to sell operations there.

"They are actively looking for a buyer," the source said, without indicating how much the Italian bank expects to raise from selling Pravex-bank.

Intesa Sanpaolo bought Pravex-bank in 2008 for about $750 million but could have to take a loss on its sale. The retail-focused Ukrainian lender had assets of about $700 million at Apr. 1

Lenders including Germany's Commerzbank and Austria's Erste Group Bank have already sold their Ukrainian subsidiaries. Both of those booked significant charges on the divestments.

Intesa Sanpaolo and Pravex-bank declined to comment on Tuesday, though the Kommersant-Ukraine newspaper cited anonymous sources in a report saying that the Italian bank had approached at least three Ukrainian and Russian lenders.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Richard Balmforth and David Goodman)

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