May 2, 2013 / 10:57 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Unicredit wraps up Kazakh unit sale for $500 mln - source

* Sale went through at shareholder equity - source

* UniCredit bought ATF for $2.1 bln in 2007

* Bank booked one-off 260 mln euro charge last year (adds source on price of sale)

MILAN/ALMATY, May 2 (Reuters) - UniCredit has sold its Kazakh unit ATF Bank for around $500 million, a source close to the deal said, as it seeks to restore profitability after being hit hard by the euro zone debt crisis.

Earlier on Thursday, Italy’s biggest bank by assets said it had completed the sale of ATF to a firm owned by Kazakh businessman Galimzhan Yesenov, without disclosing the price.

“The sale went through at ATF’s shareholders’ equity of around $500 million,” the source said.

The Italian lender bought ATF for $2.1 billion in 2007, at the height of the credit boom. It booked a one-off charge on the asset of 260 million euros in last year’s results.

The sale, first announced on March 15, is expected to boost the bank’s Core Tier 1 capital ratio by around 8 basis points.

UniCredit, which has a strong presence in central and eastern Europe, has been cutting jobs, shedding branches and selling assets to boost its bottom line.

ATF Bank’s total assets are estimated at over $5 billion. The bank has three subsidiaries, including UniCreditbank in Kyrgyzstan next door, and 17 branches scattered across Kazakhstan’s regions.

Anthony Espina, a board member of ATF bank, said that the reduction of bad loans will be the bank’s priority in the near future.

Loans overdue more than 90 days accounted for almost 43 percent of its loan portfolio of 770 billion tenge as of Jan. 1, 2013.

“We hope that in the next six to nine months we will be able to show good results when it comes to repayment of overdue debt,” Espina told journalists in Almaty. (Reporting by Silvia Aloisi, Mariya Gordeyeva and Gianluca Semeraro; Writing by Silvia Aloisi in Milan and Lidia Kelly in Moscow; Editing by Emilio Parodi and Elaine Hardcastle)

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