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The sighs of relief in the corridors of Bank Hapoalim could be heard all the way to Kiev. The deal had been signed at the end of 2007, when things looked much rosier.

Questioning the stability of Ukraine and its banking system, which once seemed to be beyond any doubt, is not so unthinkable these days.

Bank Hapoalim seems to have realized its timing was poor, but found it difficult to pull out of the deal after receiving the necessary approval and after both sides had met all the conditions, and then Fischer came along and yanked the permission - and saved Hapoalim's honor.

Yuval Ben-Zeev of Clal Finance thinks the move was brave - and he also expects the supervisor of banks, Rony Hizkiyahu, to intervene and prevent the banks from distributing dividends over the next year.

This is not the first time the central bank has helped out Hapoalim, and probably not the last either. Fischer has another request from Hapoalim on his desk, this time to buy a Russian bank. It is hard to imagine him agreeing this time either.