Italy’s UniCredit has expressed interest in buying Russia’s Otkritie Bank, reported Bloomberg.
The Italian lender can start a review process on Otkritie Bank as soon as this week, the publication reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
An advisor has been hired by the bank to study the Russian lender’s financial data. The review is expected to be completed within weeks, the people said.
Otkritie is regarded as an important bank by the Russian authorities. It was nationalised in 2017 as part of rescue efforts after it crashed due to bad debt.
Currently, Otkritie operates over 500 branches across the country and caters to retail, SME, corporate and private clients.
According to Banki.ru, with RUB3.3 trillion ($44bn) in assets, it is the seventh-biggest Russian bank.
The news comes just a few months after UniCredit and the Italian government ended talks over the sale of Banca Monte Dei Paschi di Siena (MPS).
Announcing UniCredit’s plan for 2022-2024 last month, chief executive Andrea Orcel expressed his desire for potential mergers and acquisitions.
UniCredit employs over 4,000 people in Russia and generated $436.19m in revenue in the first nine months of 2021.
Notably, in June, Otkritie’s supervisory board appointed Mikhail Alekseev as a new member, who held the position of the chairman of the management board of UniCredit’s Russian arm from 2008 to 2020.
Otkritie is owned by the Russian central bank, which said in August last year that it was preparing for an initial public offer and was also weighing options of selling the lender.