MILAN May 12 UniCredit's talks to
sell its operations in Ukraine have slowed because of the
political turmoil there and it was difficult to predict the
outcome, the Italian bank's chief executive said.
In March, Unicredit said an unidentified suitor had
submitted a non-binding offer for the business held through its
central and eastern European arm Bank Austria.
Asked by an analyst to give an update on the sale on Monday,
Chief Executive Federico Ghizzoni said the bank was in talks
with "a couple of institutions."
"The discussions are still under way. The talks have slowed
down because of the situation of the country," Ghizzoni said on
a conference call, referring to escalating tensions between
Ukraine and Russia.
"We have not formally called off the process but it is
difficult to make predictions," he said on the call after the
bank released first-quarter results.
Bank Austria said in March the Ukrainian business was valued
at 0.7 times equity value. Reclassification of the Ukrainian
bank as an asset held for sale and its operating loss in 2013
hit profits by around 250 million euros ($347 million), it said.
UniCredit began sounding out investors on the possibility of
selling its Ukraine operations last year, before the crisis
reached a critical stage.
(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro; Writing by Silvia Aloisi;
Editing by Erica Billingham)