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Swedbank to pull out of Russia and Ukraine to focus on home markets

Sweden’s Riksbank building is seen in downtown Stockholm. Swedbank is selling its Ukrainian subsidiary to focus on Sweden and the three Baltic countries.

BOB STRONG/REUTERS

Swedish bank Swedbank AB said on Monday it will discontinue operations in Russia and sell its Ukrainian subsidiary, leaving it to focus on its home markets.

"This is the final step in our strategy to concentrate Swedbank's business activities (on) Sweden and the three Baltic countries," chief executive Michael Wolf said in a statement.

It said it would cease all new business in Russia and wind down existing operations. Its net lending there is approximately 2.6-billion Swedish crowns ($399-million U.S.).

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It plans to exit Ukraine before mid-year under a share purchase agreement signed with Mykola Lagun, the majority owner of local lender Delta Bank. Swedbank announced plans to close its retail operations there in 2011.

As a result of the transaction, Swedbank will report impairments of approximately 340-million crowns ($52-million) in its first-quarter earnings.

Several banks from Western Europe have left or reduced their exposure to Ukraine. Both Swedish rival SEB and Germany's Commerzbank AG sold their Ukrainian subsidiaries last year.

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