Lithuanian bank buys Latvijas Krājbanka

Lithuania’s fourth largest bank has acquired majority interest in Latvia’s oldest bank, Latvijas Krājbanka, for nearly EUR 23 million, according to news reports.

AB bankas SNORAS, which began in 1992 as the Šiauliai Krasto Bankas (Šiauliai Regional Bank), announced Sept. 21 that it now controls just over 83 percent of shares in the publicly traded Latvijas Krājbanka.

Latvijas Krājbanka, which is based in Rīga, began in 1924 as the Postal Service Savings Bank. During the Soviet occupation is was know as the State Savings Bank. The bank was restructured in 1987 and became known as Latvijas Krājbanka. In 1997, the bank merged with Union Baltic Bank in Rīga.

Last year, Latvijas Krājbanka reported profit of LVL 1.3 million. It ranks as Latvia’s 12th largest bank.

The Lithuanian bank’s purchase of Latvijas Krājbanka, the weekly newspaper The Baltic Times reported, “confirms both the trend of bank industry consolidation in Latvia and the continued expansion of Russian capital in the Baltics.” Just under 50 percent of SNORAS is owned by Konversbank of Russia.

The purchase also is the latest evidence of strong foreign interest in the Latvian banking sector. In August, Irish millionaire Dermot Desmond bought just under a third interest in Rietumu Banka, Latvia’s fourth largest bank. In November, Māras banka, a family-owned bank founded by a repatriated exile from Venezuela, was acquired by Finland’s Sampo Bank.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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