STOCKHOLM Feb 24 Lithuania's Siauliu Bankas
has agreed to acquire the assets and liabilities of
Ukio Bankas, which was placed in administration last
The country's central bank restricted operations at Ukio and
appointed an administrator after Lithuania's No.4 bank ran into
financial trouble. Ukio's main shareholder - with a 65 percent
stake - is Vladimir Romanov, owner of cash-strapped Scottish
soccer club Hearts.
"The most important task now is to resume the provision of
services to the former customers of Ukio Bankas," Audrius
Ziugzda, CEO of Siauliu Bankas, said in a statement.
"This will require considerable effort and time, which we
are prepared to give."
Siauliu Bankas is 20 percent owned by the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which will provide 20
million euros ($26.32 million) in subordinated debt to
strengthen Siauliu's capital base, facilitate the takeover
process and help to stabilise Lithuania's financial sector.
Vitas Vasiliauskas, chairman of the board of the Bank of
Lithuania, said that almost all account holders would be covered
under the transfer of Ukio's activities to Siauliu.
"This means that the most important short-term goal has been
reached - the absolute majority of people and companies will be
able to again, without any disturbances, dispose of their funds,
which are held at Ukio Bankas," he said in a statement on the
central bank's website.
The central bank has said that Ukio had deposits of 3.4
billion Lithuanian litas ($1.3 billion), making it the
fourth-biggest deposit taker behind the local subsidiaries of
Scandinavian groups SEB, Swedbank and DNB
. By assets, Ukio is the country's sixth-largest bank.
Siauliu Bankas will acquire assets and liabilities amounting
to 2.7 billion litas.
Edinburgh-based Hearts, one of Scotland's top soccer clubs,
has debt of about 24 million pounds ($38 million) and in
December agreed to pay 1.5 million pounds to settle a tax
dispute. The club also cleared a separate tax bill of 450,000
pounds which lifted the immediate threat of liquidation.
Fans have set up a foundation to try to save the club and
have asked Romanov to allow them to take it over.
The club has distanced itself from the troubles at Ukio,
saying that Romanov's shareholding in the soccer club was via a
completely separate investment company. But it also said that
Ukio provided the club with banking services and loans.
($1 = 2.6233 Lithuanian litas)
($1 = 0.7598 euros)
(Reporting by Mia Shanley; Editing by David Goodman)