Following the completion of one-month procedures, Austrias Erste has become the majority owner of Ukraines Prestige Bank, the Ukrainian bank said in a statement on Thursday.

Erste bought the bank for USD 104 million last month.

Erstes development plan for Ukraine foresees the opening of 400 branch offices countrywide and grabbing a 4-5-per-cent market share through 2010.

"To implement this business plan Erste Bank will invest up to USD 300 million up to 2010 to the banks capital," the statement said.

The Ukrainian banking sector is very fragmented, with none of the banks holding more than a tenth of the market. Currently, the central bank has in its registry 166 banks.

Over the past few years, the sector saw a huge inflow of foreign capital as banking majors in Europe started buying into the still underdeveloped and, thus, with big growth potential, market.

On February 15, Prestige Bank is convening a shareholders meeting to name a new board of directors. Rebranding is also envisaged.