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Bank Austria Creditanstalt (BA-CA) has signed an agreement to purchase Eksimbanka, a Serbian bank headquartered in Belgrade. The sellers of the 58.7% majority interest are the German Investment and Development Company DEG, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the investment management company Futura Investment, as well as SEEF Holding (a member of the Soros Group).

Due to legal requirements in Serbia, a binding, public takeover offer will be submitted to all the shareholders of Eksimbanka. “By acquiring Eksimbanka we will significantly strengthen our market position in Serbia,” says Erich Hampel, CEO of Bank Austria Creditanstalt. Together with Eksimbanka, BA-CA will hold a market share of 5.3% in Serbia.

The acquisition is subject to approval by all relevant authorities as well as acceptance of the public takeover offer. Details of the transaction will not be disclosed until submission of the public takeover offer, which is planned for the beginning of December 2004. The purchase price will be a double-digit figure in millions of euros. CA IB, BA-CA’s investment banking arm, acted as adviser to BA-CA on this acquisition.

Eksimbanka has total assets of €
144mn (as at September 30, 2004) and a market share of 2.4% which makes it number 12 in the Serbian banking market. With a countrywide network of 32 offices and a total of 300 employees, the bank serves 60,000 customers. The bank was created in 1991. It was the first Serbian bank to receive capital from a number of renowned international investors. Eksimbanka has been restructured since then. Today, Eksimbanka operates an extensive and modern network of branches. The bank focuses on small and medium-sized businesses and retail customers. The book value of total equity of Eksimbanka was €
15.9mn as at the end of June 2004.

BA-CA has been active in Serbia since December 2001 through its subsidiary HVB Bank Serbia and Montenegro. HVB Bank Serbia and Montenegro is currently the ninth-largest local bank, with total assets of about €
180mn, 125 employees, four branches and some 10,000 customers. It is planned to integrate HVB Bank Serbia and Montenegro and Eksimbanka by the end of 2005.

HVB Bank Serbia and Montenegro and Eksimbanka will together serve 70,000 customers via 36 branches. With combined total assets of about €
320mn, they will become number five among banks in Serbia. “The acquisition of Eksimbanka provides a strong base for our further growth in Serbia. This transaction will strongly enhance our retail business,” says BA-CA CEO Erich Hampel.

Within HVB Group, Bank Austria Creditanstalt is responsible for business in the markets of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The bank operates the leading network in the region, serving more than 4.2mn customers in 11 countries.