Austria’s RBI can’t give timing on possible Strabag deal, CEO says

4 months ago
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VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International, the biggest Western bank in Russia, cannot give a timeframe for its contested deal to purchase a stake in Austria’s Strabag that was long held by a now sanctioned Russian tycoon, the bank’s chief executive said on Thursday.

But Chief Executive Officer Johann Strobl told shareholders at an annual general meeting, “the earlier the better”.

The comments are the latest development in RBI’s attempt to unlock the stake in a complex deal as a means of freeing up some of its billions stranded in Russia. Reuters reported on March 20 that U.S. Treasury officials have expressed their concerns about the 1.1 billion euro transaction in meetings with the bank and Austrian authorities.

Earlier this week, RBI said that the deal complied with sanctions laws but that it “requires extensive compliance verifications” following a recent transfer of the holding.

In December, RBI announced it intended to buy the Strabag stake from Russia-based Rasperia Trading Limited, a company controlled by sanctioned Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska.

RBI said at the time that it planned to close its deal by the end of March.

Strobl told shareholders on Thursday that the bank had answered questions of multiple authorities, including those in the United States.

“We continue to believe … that such a transaction is legal and possible,” he told shareholders.…Read more by Reuters

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