Financial services provider KBC has received the final necessary regulatory approval from the Central Bank of Russia to acquire Absolut Bank. The group had already obtained approval from the Anti-Trust Commission and now holds 95% of the shares of Absolut Bank, while the International Finance Corporation holds the remaining 5%.

Andre Bergen, KBC Group CEO, commented on the closing of the deal: This acquisition is a logical and important step in KBC’s international expansion. KBC is now entering a new emerging European market. The Russian banking market is one of the largest and most dynamic in emerging Europe, having achieved annual growth of more than 40% in aggregate net profit over the past five years.

Absolut Bank is a fast growing bank and an ideal platform for KBC to start building on its long-term presence in this promising market. KBC wants to ensure the growth and future of Absolut Bank for the benefit of its retail and corporate customers, employees, shareholders and the Russian community at large.

Jan Vanhevel, CEO of KBC Group’s central Europe business unit, added: The acquisition of Absolut Bank is KBC’s very first takeover in Russia. KBC is strongly committed to supporting the management of Absolut Bank in the implementation of their ambitious and successful business and growth plans in Russia, plans which will be further fine-tuned in the coming months. We are convinced that the internationally active clients of the KBC group, and especially those in central and eastern Europe, will also be able to benefit from Absolut Bank’s experience, know-how and excellent service.