* Sells Absolut Bank to group of Russian companies
* Will book 100 mln euro gain in 2013
* One of last items EU regulators required KBC to divest
(Adds details, background)
BRUSSELS, Dec 24 Belgian banking and insurance
group KBC has struck a deal to sell its Russian banking
unit Absolut Bank, one of the final businesses it is divesting
to meet conditions agreed with European regulators after it
received state aid.
KBC said on Monday it was selling Absolut for 300 million
euros ($395 million) to a group of Russian companies that manage
the assets of Blagosostoyanie, Russia's second-biggest non-state
pension fund owned by Russia's rail monopoly.
The Belgian group bought a 95 percent stake in Absolut in
2007 in a deal valuing the whole at 761 million euros, or 3.8
times book value, flagging its purchase as a high-growth
business in a rapidly expanding market.
KBC said the divestment, which includes the repayment of 700
million euros of KBC funding within Absolut, would free up 300
million euros of capital for KBC, primarily by reducing 2
billion euros of risk-weighted assets. KBC's tier-1 capital
ratio would improve by around 0.4 percentage points.
The deal, set to close in the second quarter of 2013, would
have a positive impact of about 100 million euros on KBC's
consolidated results, KBC added.
KBC has already repaid 3.5 billion euros of aid to Belgium
and plans early next year to give back 1.17 billion euros of the
3.5 billion euros it took from the region of Flanders.
Absolut Bank, among the top 45 Russian banks by assets and
among the top 10 by the size of its mortgage portfolio, is one
of the last and smaller divestments KBC plans.
It has also committed to selling KBC Bank Deutschland,
Antwerp Diamond Bank, Serbian unit KBC Banka and its minority
stake in Slovenia's Nova Ljubljanska Bank.
($1 = 0.7590 euros)
(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Mark Potter)