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article imageRussia's largest bank pulls out of Ukraine

By AFP     Mar 28, 2017 in Business

Russia's Sberbank, the largest in the country, on Tuesday announced it had sold its Ukraine division, where operations have been complicated since Moscow's annexation of Crimea.

Sberbank, whose controlling stake is owned by the Russian state, said in a statement Tuesday that it had signed a deal with a "consortium of investors" including Latvia's Norvik Banka and a Belarusian private company.

"The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2017," the statement said.

The bank has faced difficulties since 2014, when Moscow annexed Crimea while pro-Russian separatists declared independence in parts of eastern Ukraine, sparking a conflict that has killed thousands.

Ukrainian activists have viewed Sberbank as a symbol of Russia's unwelcome presence in the country, with many incidents of vandalism over the past three years.

On March 16, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko slapped one-year sanctions on a number of Russian state-owned banks in the country, including Sberbank, blocking them from taking money out of the country.

As part of a campaign to strip Russian banks of licenses to operate in Ukraine, Ukrainian activists earlier this month completely mured the entrance to one of Sberbank's branches in Kiev with bricks and mortar.

"We hope that the decision... will help to unblock its offices and to renew normal work," the Sberbank statement said.

Ukrainian media reported that activists have already started to take down bricks they had used to block the entrance to the bank.

More about Russia, Ukraine, Conflict, sberbank, Merger
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