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Ukrainian lender says security service is urging clients to change banks

said theSecurity Service of Ukraine, or SBU, has been advising its clients to movetheir accounts to "state-financed institutions," after its parent,UniCredit SpA,decided to sell theUkrainian unit to ABH HoldingsSA, a buyer with Russian ties.

Thelender expressed concern with the SBU's practices, and it said the allegationsregarding its "connection to the Russian capital and intention tonegatively impact the Ukrainian state sector of economy are unfounded" andaimed to hamper competition and subsequently damage the Ukrainian economy.

Thebank further noted that it is part of an "international group withimpeccable business reputation" and that following the completion of thesale procedure it will merge with PJSC Alfa-Bank Ukraine to form "a strong bankinggroup in the Ukrainian market." Ukrainian media outlets also citedUkrsotsbank as saying Alfa-Bank Ukraine is not a lender with Russian capitalbut an international banking structure.

ABHHoldings SA is a part of Alfa Group Consortium, one of Russia's largestprivately owned investment companies. According to Alfa Group's website, ABHHoldings is based in Luxembourg and controls Alfa Bank units in , Ukraine, Belarus andKazakhstan, as well as Amsterdam Trade Bank NV.