(Adds more comment, background)
By Oksana Kobzeva
MOSCOW, April 2 Russian lender Binbank said on
Wednesday it could buy the Moscow subsidiary of Ukraine's
Privatbank in two weeks from its Ukrainian owners who say they
were under political pressure to sell.
Russia's central bank put Moskomprivatbank under temporary
administration last month to prevent its bankruptcy, but some
analysts said it was aimed at punishing Ukraine's new rulers for
pursuing closer ties to the West. Moscow denies the charge.
Privatbank, Ukraine's largest bank, said its subsidiary had
faced unwarranted political pressure, suggesting it was a victim
of the standoff between Moscow and Kiev which resulted in Russia
Privatbank is part of Privat group, co-owned by Igor
Kolomoisky, called "a unique imposter" by President Vladimir
Putin last month when the businessman was appointed governor of
Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region.
Binbank's co-owner, Mikail Shishkanov, said the Ukrainian
side would be happy with the deal.
"It is an absolutely friendly, normal business deal ... in
any case the Ukrainian partners will be satisfied," he told
journalists, adding the deal should be closed in two weeks.
He said Binbank, a medium-sized lender, would pay for the
deal with cash and shares in property in Ukraine.
Privatbank said in a statement the Russian authorities had
made it difficult to operate.
"Despite the unprecedented political pressure on
Moskomprivatbank from the Russian authorities, effectively
blocking bank checks and the unreasonable imposition of
temporary administration, the bank continued to work and
fulfilled all its obligations to customers," it said.
"We are emerging from a difficult situation with our heads
held high despite the difficult political situation."
Ukraine's new rulers have accused Russia of moving to
confiscate Ukrainian businesses in Russia to punish the new
western direction of its government, installed after months of
protests against pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovich.
But Binbank said Russia's Deposit Insurance Agency had ruled
that Moskomprivatbank, Russia's 95th biggest by assets according
to Interfax news agency data, did not have enough liquidity to
cover its obligations and a "lack of a fully-fledged independent
Last month, Moskomprivatbank, with assets of 50 billion
roubles ($1.4 billion), had capital requirement ratios above the
levels required by the Russian central bank to keep a banking
According to the central bank's data for January, the latest
available, it had no violations of capital requirements.
It was not clear what had changed since then.
(Additional reporting by Katya Golubkova and Natalia Zinets in
Kiev, Writing by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Timothy Heritage
and Anna Willard)