(Adds date for integration of Unionbank)
SOFIA Feb 18 Bulgaria's First Investment Bank
(Fibank) plans to complete the takeover of smaller peer
MKB Unionbank and integrate it by March 1, it said on Tuesday,
after the central bank gave a green light for the deal.
Fibank is the Balkan country's third-largest lender by
assets and one of the few Bulgarian banks that are not
"Now that we have the central bank nod, we are looking
forward to being one bank from March 1," the bank's spokesman
Fibank bought MKB Unionbank from Germany's Bayerische
Landesbank (BayernLB) last October for 46.94 million levs
($32.89 million). Once the takeover is completed, the bank's
combined assets will exceed 8.5 billion levs.
In 2012, the European Commission ordered BayernLB to
restructure and sell some businesses as a precondition for
approving state aid for the German regional lender. BayernLB ran
into trouble in 2008 after risky investments turned sour.
Fibank's assets stood at 7.45 billion levs ($5.22 billion)
at the end of 2013 and MKB Unionbank's total assets amounted to
1.45 billion levs, data showed.
The central bank said the approval for the merger can be
contested within 14 days.
($1 = 1.4274 Bulgarian levs)
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov and Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing
by Pravin Char and Tom Pfeiffer)