UPDATE 1-Sberbank says no loans in Ukraine until situation improves

Mon Mar 3, 2014 1:33pm EST

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MOSCOW, March 3 (Reuters) - Russian bank Sberbank will return to signing loan agreements in Ukraine when the financial situation there improves, the bank's chairman Igor Yushko said in a statement on Monday.

Sberbank previously said it had temporarily suspended some lending but the bank would continue to extend credit to large enterprises whose financial condition was sound.

"The bank continues to consider applications from potential borrowers building up a project portfolio. The bank will get back to signing loan agreements once financial situation improves," Yushko said.

He added that Sberbank had a strong liquidity level in Ukraine with 1.7 billion hryvnia available and an unused line of $750 million from its main bank.

It also said it was not reducing the size limits for cash withdrawals from payment cards.

Sberbank's CEO German Gref said two weeks ago that the bank had no intention of leaving the market but had temporarily suspended some lending.

Sberbank had exposure of 130 billion roubles ($4 billion) to Ukraine - or less than 1 percent of its balance sheet.

Russia took a financial hit over its military intervention in neighbouring Ukraine, with its markets and currency plunging on Monday as President Vladimir Putin's forces tightened their grip on the Russian-speaking Crimea region.

Ukraine's central bank last week said it would limit the amount of foreign currency citizens could take out to 15,000 hryvnia ($1,500) a day.

Some banks such as local bank Privatbank and the Ukrainian unit of Italy's biggest bank by assets, UniCredit, have announced limits. (Reporting by Megan Davies, editing by Gabriela Baczynska and Toby Chopra)

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