ATHENS, March 27 Alpha Bank (ACBr.AT), Greece's third-largest lender, said on Thursday it reached a deal to buy a majority stake in newly established OJSC Astra Bank in Ukraine as part of plans to expand in the region.
Alpha Bank said it agreed to buy 90 percent of Astra Bank at a price reflecting Astra's equity capital of 9 million euros ($14.2 million).
"With this acquisition, Alpha Bank gains a presence in a fast growing market in one of the largest countries in southeastern Europe," the lender said.
Astra Bank plans to set up a nationwide branch network by 2010, targeting 50 branches by the end of this year which will mean an investment of 130 million euros.
Ukraine's banking market has been on the radar screen of other Greek banks as well.
EFG Eurobank EFGr.AT has acquired Universal Bank, Piraeus Bank (BOPr.AT) has bought International Commerce Bank, Marfin Popular MRBr.AT owns Marine Transport Bank and the Bank of Cyprus (BOCr.AT) controls AvtoZAZ Bank. (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos, Tatiana Fragou; Editing by Rory Channing)