Hapoalim to Buy 76% of SDM-Bank

BloombergBank Hapoalim's headquarters in Tel Aviv. Israeli media reports have said it could resell the SDM stake to the EBRD.
Bank Hapoalim, one of Israel's largest lenders, will acquire 76 percent of midsized SDM-Bank, which it has valued at $142.5 million, the Russian bank announced Wednesday.

"We're not selling the company, it's a partnership," SDM chairman Maxim Solntsev said by telephone Wednesday, adding that the bank's top executives would remain in place after the shares were transferred to Hapoalim.

Hapoalim, an internationally focused bank with offices in North America, Latin America, Asia and Europe, announced its plans to negotiate the acquisition last December. At that time, SDM-Bank, which has branches in Moscow and eight other cities across the country, was valued at $140 million to $160 million.

SDM-Bank is ranked the country's 127th-biggest bank in terms of assets, according to Interfax.

Israeli media has published reports claiming that Hapoalim could resell SDM-Bank shares to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, but Hapoalim denies this.

Richard Wallace, a spokesman for the EBRD, said it was not involved in the acquisition. "We have absolutely nothing to do with it," Wallace said. "There have been reports regarding this, but nothing has or will come of it."

The EBRD initiated a $300 million loan syndicate with Hapoalim and two other banks for projects in Russia, Ukraine and Romania, Israeli newspaper Globes reported in March 2007.

In late 2006, Hapoalim chairman Shlomo Nehama said the Israeli bank was seeking to acquire an unnamed Russian bank for $150 million to $200 million, Interfax reported.

Hapoalim later pulled out "due to significant risk related to the unstable political situation" in Russia, Globes reported at the time.