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Italy's UniCredito seeks to expand into Hungary

UniCredito Italiano SpA, Italy's second-largest lender, is seeking to expand into Hungary and Russia in a bid to increase the contributions to profit made by its Eastern European businesses.

UniCredito will decide in the next two weeks whether to buy a bank in Hungary, said Roberto Nicastro, head of UniCredito's New Europe Banking division.

The bank expects the region's economies to grow faster than those of the 12 countries that share the euro.

About 12% of UniCredito's profit currently comes from Eastern Europe following seven acquisitions and one joint venture in the region since 1999.

The bank wants to boost this to 25% by 2008, Nicastro said.

(BBJ 26.v.03)

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