Press Release Press Release


September 18, 2007

Commerzbank strengthens its position in Eastern Europe:
Acquisition of majority interest in Ukraine’s Bank Forum

Commerzbank is pleased to announce the acquisition of a majority interest of 60% plus one share in Ukraine’s privately-controlled Bank Forum, considerably strengthening Commerzbank’s position in its target growth regions of Central and Eastern Europe. Commerzbank has also secured the options to purchase a further up to 25% of Bank Forum after 36 months. In both cases the bank will be purchasing shares from majority investor Leonid Yurushev and his family.

The purchase price for the majority interest is USD 600 million (around EUR 435 million). The agreement is subject to the customary regulatory approvals. Commerzbank will finance the transaction through existing financial resources.

Martin Blessing, member of the Commerzbank Board of Managing Directors responsible for Mittelstand banking (SME customers), expressed his pleasure at the conclusion of the exclusive negotiations: “After an intensive search, we have found an ideal complement for our network of operational outlets in the booming region of Central and Eastern Europe in the form of Bank Forum, the tenth largest bank in Ukraine by total assets. This represents another step in our strategy of selective acquisitions to grow within our target regions. With approximately 12,000 corporate customers, of which 9,500 are small and medium-sized enterprises, Bank Forum is already making an important contribution to strengthening our Mittelstand business. In addition, we plan to expand Bank Forum’s retail customer business considerably in the coming years.”

Focus on Mittelstand banking – expanding retail customer business

Bank Forum was founded in 1994 and, after rapid expansion, now has assets totalling the equivalent of EUR 1.4 billion and a market share of 2.3%. Its initial focus has been on developing its business with SME customers, which constitute approximately two-thirds of assets. Bank Forum serves around 230,000 retail customers across Ukraine through approximately 3,100 employees in 230 branches. The Bank plans to increase the number of branches to 400 in the next four years, whilst doubling its market share. The Yurushev family holds 84.5% of the Bank’s shares.

Commerzbank with a share of 26% has the leading position in the settlement of German-Ukrainian foreign trade transactions and with this acquisition becomes the first German bank with an operational presence in Ukraine. The Ukrainian banking market has experienced strong growth rates in recent years, with bank assets rising at an average rate of more than 50% over the past five years. However, market penetration of banking services is still comparatively low leading to significant growth potential. One of the special characteristics of the Ukrainian banking system is that – unlike most other countries in the region – the proportion owned by foreign shareholders is relatively low (29%).

Central and Eastern Europe has been a core market for Commerzbank for many years. In Ukraine, it has so far been represented by an office in the capital city of Kiev. Its operational outlets in other Central and Eastern European cities include subsidiaries in Moscow and Budapest, plus branches in Bratislava, Brno and Prague, as well as its subsidiary BRE Bank in Poland. In addition, Commerzbank holds a 15.3% stake in Russia’s Promsvyazbank. In the region’s smaller countries, notably the Balkan states, it holds stakes in the local ProCredit Banks.