FRANKFURT, June 27 Harsher European Union
sanctions against Russia could hurt UniCredit's
business, a board member of the Italian lender told a German
"We respect the decisions of the EU and will comply with the
decisions," Gianni Franco Papa was quoted as saying in an
interview with German daily Handelsblatt.
"But should there be harsher restrictions it would of course
have an impact on our business, but also on all of Europe.
Russia is a very important market."
Bank Austria, UniCredit's central and eastern European arm,
posted a 26 percent jump in operating profit in Russia last
year, to 783 million euros ($1.06 billion), buoyed by retail
Western powers have stepped up pressure on Russia to take
action to defuse a conflict in eastern Ukraine that erupted
after protests in Kiev toppled Moscow-backed Ukrainian leader
Viktor Yanukovich in February and Russia annexed the Crimean
The European Union is preparing to discuss deeper sanctions
against Russia at a Brussels summit on Friday, though Western
diplomats said the EU and the United States were not poised to
impose fresh restrictions on Russia.
Unicredit is trying to sell its business in Ukraine, which
Papa said accounts for 0.4 percent of the group's credit
"The sales talks are ongoing," Papa said, adding there was
no fixed timeframe for a sale.
Asked whether he may have picked a bad time to seek a buyer
for a Ukrainian lender, amid the ongoing crisis, Papa said the
market there was already difficult before the conflict between
Ukraine and Russia began, adding the election of new Ukrainian
President Petro Poroshenko had led to some stabilisation.
($1 = 0.7359 Euros)
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; editing by Jason Neely)