Telenor and French bank Societe Generale have agreed to buy the Serbian unit of Belgian banking and insurance group KBC, as part of the Norwegian operator’s strategy for introducing mobile financial services to the country.
The operator is acquiring KBC Banka’s banking licence while Societe Generale will take on some of the bank’s branches and staff as well as its customers. The price was not disclosed.
“Among three potential strategic options, we decided to acquire a bank, as this is a solution that best fits our strategy and enables the fastest go-to market approach,” said Ove Fredheim (pictured), CEO of Telenor Serbia.
He did not disclose the other options for Telenor to enter the country’s mobile banking market. It is the country’s second-largest mobile operator with over three million mobile subscribers (Q1 2013 figures), according to Wireless Intelligence. He said a new, rebranded Telenor bank would be launched.
The Norwegian operator has a history of acquiring stakes in institutions that can further its strategy in mobile banking, financial services and payments. In 2008, it acquired a 51 per cent stake in Tameer Microfinance Bank, Pakistan’s largest micro financial institution. In March this year, Telenor acquired Norway’s largest provider of mobile couponing.
The transaction still needs the approval of the National Bank of Serbia and the Commission for the Protection of Competition. Telenor says approval is expected in the next few months.
KBC’s exit from the Serbian market was part of restructuring agreed with the EC in 2009 in return for state aid of €7 billion to nurse the bank through the financial crisis.
Source mobile world live