Delta Bank’s latest takeover blocked by Ukrainian central bank

By bne IntelliNews September 24, 2014

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Greece's Eurobank has announced that its deal to sell its Ukrainian subsidiary Universal Bank to  Delta Bank, Ukraine's fourth largest bank,  has failed to gain the agreement of Ukraine's National Bank. The cancellation of the deal confirms that a remarkable run of success for Delta Bank between 2008-2014, in which  the bank grew from Ukraine's 35th largest to it fourth largest, has ended.

"Eurobank announced that has not received the appropriate approvals for the completion of transaction. Thereupon Eurobank decided to terminate the contract with the Group Delta Bank," the bank said in a statement on September 23.

Delta Bank agreed in August 2014 to pay €90m to buy Universal Bank, the latest in a series of acquisitions of (mostly troubled) banks and loan and deposit books since the financial crisis in 2008-2009 that has propelled Delta Bank to Ukraine’s  fourth largest bank by assets, despite lacking any apparent affiliation to a major foreign or domestic business group. US financial group Cargill owns a 30% stake in the bank as result of a debt-equity swap following the financial crisis, but is not regarded as a strategic investor.

But like most of Ukraine's banking system, Delta has been badly hit by deposit outflows resulting from political instability and war in Ukraine in 2014, as a well as a steep and accelerating decline in the value of the hryvnia. 

Delta Bank claims to have received a stabilisation credit from the National Bank of Ukraine September 12, but announced temporary restrictions on cash withdrawals via autotellers on September 22. The failure of the NBU to approve Delta's takeover deal for Universal may have been part of the agreement on the stabilisation loan, experts believe.

There has also been a smear campaign launched against Delta Bank in September with widespread false media reports that majority owner and chairman Mykola Lagun had been detained by the Ukraine's security service. A number of publications conversely published positive features on Lagun on September 23.

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