Banca Transilvania wants to buy 39% of "Victoriabank" Moldova

08 nov. 2017 English Section
A.A. (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Banca Transilvania wants to buy 39% of "Victoriabank" Moldova

A 39% stake belongs to Russian millionaire Sergey Lobanov, who is being criminally investigated in Russia for alcohol contraband 

Banca Transilvania intends to buy an initial stake of over 39% of Victoriabank, the third largest bank in the Republic of Moldova, and together with the EBRD, would own a majority stake, according to a press release sent yesterday.

A block of 39.2% of the Moldovan bank is by owned Russian millionaire Sergey Lobanov, through Insidown Ciprus. He is alleged to have ties with Moldovan oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, according to the Moldovan press, which quotes an open letter of businessman Vyacheslav Platon to the criminal investigation bodies.

Banca Transilvania announced that it has requested the approval of the acquisition by regulators and relevant authorities in Romania and the Republic of Moldova.

According to the legislation in effect, BT and the EBRD will make an offer for the acquisition of the other shares, the press release further states.

The representatives of BT also state that the minority shareholder, EBRD, has increased its stake to 27.5% last year, in an attempt to restore an efficient corporate governance and to attract strong strategic investors in Victoriabank.

Victoriabank has almost 30 years of activity in the Republic of Moldova, 540,000 customers, 1,400 employees and almost 100 branches.

In June, Victoriabank had the highest level of deposits compared to the total level of assets of the whole market of the Republic of Moldova, 80%, and the loan/deposit ratio was the lowest on the market (39%), according to the press release by BT.

The National Bank of Moldova has decided a package of measures concerning Victoriabank, in March

Some of the bank's shareholders have been fined by the National Bank of Moldova (BNM), this year, according to the press in Moldova.

"BNM is conducting the procedure of evaluation of shareholders who own substantial stakes in Victoriabank and therefore, in March 2017, fines were levied on holders of significant shares in the share capital of VICB (ed. note: Insidown and Lobanov, according to the press) amounting to approximately one million lei, which was paid to the state budget", a report by the banking authority states, quoted by mold-street.com. Also, as a result of the complex audit conducted at the bank, on October 4th, 2017, the executive committee of the BNM decided to fine the members of the Board of Directors of Victoriabank, who were in office at the time of the audit. The total amount of the fines was 496,100 lei.

"In particular, the bank has not honored the prudential requirements concerning the lending activity, currency exchange regulations, risk concentration, asset classification etc", BNM claims.

The bank was asked to draw up a plan to remedy the problems found during the audit, with the establishing of the concrete deadlines for its completion.

On May 25th, 2017, the shareholders of Victoriabank had chosen new members on the Board of Directors of the bank: Gavin N. Ryan, Ionuţ Octavian Pătrăhău, Dinu Gherasim, Ion Prisăcaru, Victor Ţurcan, Igor Balan, Igor Spoială.

Ţurcan Victor owns 10.45% of the bank, according to the press.

Over the last few years, the bank has had several corporate governance issues. In September 2014, the Board of Directors of the bank was suspended through a court ruling. A new board made up of seven members was elected in October 2015 in an extraordinary meeting of the shareholders, initiated by the EBRD. However, the board has remained not functional as three of the elected members did not submit the necessary documentation to be approved by the National Bank of Romania.

Last year businessman Vyacheslav Platon wrote, in an open letter addressed to general interim prosecutor Eduard Harunjen, that Russian millionaire Serghei Lobanov, who holds 39 of Victoriabank, and who is being criminally investigated in Russia for alcohol contraband, confessed to Russian investigators that he was only formally the holder of shares in Victoriabank, while the true owners of the shares were Vladimir Plahotniuc and Ilan Shor.

Vyacheslav Platon said, quoted by the Moldavian press: "I keep forgetting to inform you that Mr. Lobanov, who, apparently, is the beneficiary of Cypriot company Insidown, which in turn now holds 39.2% of the shares of Victoriabank, also had 25% of the shares in the Savings Bank and was hiding behind VEB Kapital. And not long ago, in his testimonies to the legal bodies of the Russian Federation, announced that the 32.9% shares in Victoriabank he actually holds for Shor and Plahotniuc. Here is, Mr. General Prosecutor how interesting the situation is".

In his letter, the businessman also asks for oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc to be investigated.

Ilan Shor, the other name mentioned by Platon, is mentioned in the case of 1 billion dollar theft from three Moldovan banks.

The detectives of Kroll, one of the biggest financial investigation companies in the world, hired by the Central Bank of Moldova to shed some light on the theft of one billion dollars, from the banks Banca de Economii (the Savings Bank), Banca Socială (the Social Bank) and Unibank, have identified Israeli Ilan Shor, 28 years old, as the one the money went to.

The money disappeared from three of the most important banks in Moldova just before the November elections, in 2014, through loans.

Ilan Shor came to the attention of the public opinion in 2011, after renting the Palace of the Republic, which used to host the Parliament's sessions at the time, to celebrate his wedding to a notorious Russian singer.

Businessman Vyacheslav Platon said, in an open letter, that Lobanov has confirmed to the investigative bodies that the shares he holds in Victoriabank belong in reality to Ilan Shor and Vladimir Plahotniuc, according to the Moldovan press.

Banca Transilvania is also in talks to buy Bancpost, owned by Eurobank, with the negotiations being in the final stage, according to sources close to the situation.

In fact, BT recently announced investors, through a press release posted on the BSE website, that the negotiations concerning the acquisition of Bancpost are continuing, and they are estimated to be completed by the end of this month.

According to the sources, if a deal is reached, then, by acquiring BancPost, Banca Transilvania would reach a market share of 16%.


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