November 16, 2018 / 10:51 AM / 6 months ago

Albania's Union Bank buys Malaysian-owned ICBank

TIRANA, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Union Bank, Albania’s eighth biggest bank, has bought the smaller Malaysian-owned International Commercial Bank (ICBank), the Albanian central bank told Reuters on Friday.

The sale comes after two similar deals that have brought down the number of commercial banks in the Balkan nation to 13 from 16 this year.

The parties signed the contract last week, and have filed for approval with the Bank of Albania, the central bank, which confirmed to Reuters it had received their request to approve the sale. It did not say what the sale price was.

The Malaysian-owned International Commercial Bank was licensed in January 1997, just before the collapse of pyramid money scams in Albania which depleted bank deposits and sparked protests leading to six months of anarchy and violence.

ICBank did not answer written questions from Reuters, and neither did Union Bank, citing confidentiality clauses.

ICBank had assets totalling 10.6 billion lek ($96.6 million), or 0.7 percent of the industry total in September, according to figures from the Albanian Association of Banks, while Union Bank had assets totalling 50.6 billion lek ($462.8 million), or 3.4 percent of the total.

ICBank says it has a staff of 90 people and five branches, most of them in the capital Tirana.

Union Bank was launched 10 years later than ICBank thanks to the success of the local Western Union franchise, ubiquitous across Albania, whose migrant community of around one million people abroad need quick and cheap money transfers.

Earlier this year Italy’s Intesa San Paolo local unit bought Albanian subsidiary of Veneto Banka, and the National Bank of Greece also sold its local unit. ($1 = 109.3500 leke) (Reporting by Benet Koleka, Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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