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28 Apr, 2008 04:11

Rich Russian banks to buy European rivals

The purchase of major EU bank, B.M.P.S. by a Russian counterpart could mark the start of a shopping spree by the country’s cash-rich banks.

On Wednesday influential business daily Milano Finanza reported that a Russian consortium is eyeing the French and Belgian operations of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA.
Observers believe only VTB or Sberbank has the resources to buy the assets put up for sale by the Italian major.

Experts think cash-rich Russian banks will not be able to resist the temptation to purchase European banks. The current credit crisis provides all the conditions for such deals: EU banks have become relatively cheap, while Russia's banks are full of cash.
However, some banking analysts do not see the logic for Russian banks to buy abroad. “I think the priority for any Russian bank’s management must be first to focus on the domestic market,” an expert from global investment bank Lehman Brothers said.