DnB NOR to acquire Monchebank in Murmansk DnB NOR has entered into an agreement to acquire Monchebank, headquartered in Murmansk with 180 employees. DnB NOR established a representative office in Murmansk in 1999 and has cooperated with Monchebank for several years. `The acquisition of Monchebank will give us a sound position in an area with exciting prospects once the large oil and gas fields in the Barents Sea are due for extraction,` says Svein Aaser, group chief executive in DnB NOR. The acquisition of Monchebank is in line with DnB NOR`s stated international strategy, which implies that the Group will focus on selected areas and industries such as energy, fisheries and shipping. DnB NOR will also follow existing customers outside Norway. An increasing number of Norwegian companies are establishing themselves in Murmansk and the Barents region. Monchebank has a firm foothold in Murmansk, with 3,000 corporate clients and around 50,000 retail customers. The bank`s equity totals approximately USD 10 million, and annual operating profits have been just over USD 1.5 million the past few years. Monchebank is currently owned by the Moscow-based Rosbank, a company in the Interros Group. DnB NOR will pay USD 21 million for 97.3 per cent of the shares in Monchebank. Some operations in Monchebank, associated with activities in the Interros Group, will be transferred to the seller before the transaction is completed. The acquisition of Monchebank is contingent on approval by the authorities in Norway and Russia. Monchebank is a small regional bank, but has all necessary licences to engage in banking throughout Russia. Starting business from scratch would be a time-consuming process which could take between three and five years. `In addition to sound operations in the Murmansk area, which we will develop further, the acquisition of Monchebank will give DnB NOR immediate access to the Russian banking market,` says Aaser. DnB NOR already has a sound position in Northern Norway through its subsidiary Nordlandsbanken and eight bank branches in Troms and Finnmark counties. Earlier this year, DnB NOR entered into an agreement with the German Norddeutsche Landesbank (NORD/LB) on the establishment of DnB NORD. DnB NORD will conduct banking operations in the Baltic states, Poland and Denmark. DnB NOR has also taken over NORD/LB`s operations in Sweden. `The acquisition of Monchebank complements our initiatives in the Nordic region and in the rapidly expanding economies in the Baltic region, which include the establishment of DnB NORD,` says group chief executive Svein Aaser. http://www.newsweb.no/index.asp?melding_ID=115596

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