'Binding bid' submitted for AIB's Bulgarian interests
BULGARIAN investment company Expat Capital yesterday confirmed that it submitted a "binding bid" to buy out AIB's Bulgarian interests in a deal that could be worth about €25m.
The news comes as AIB prepares to sell off a number of its "non-core" assets, including the 49.99pc stake in Bulgarian American Credit and its Am Credit mortgage business in the Baltic states.
The almost-nationalised bank has already sold off its 70pc stake in Poland's Bank Zachodni for €3.1bn and has raised €2m from selling its 22pc stake in US bank M&T.
The disposals will all count towards the €10.4bn capital target AIB was set in September, as well as any further targets imposed by a new round of stress tests at the end of March.
Expat Capital chief executive Nikolay Vassilev yesterday told Bloomberg his company had submitted a "binding bid" to AIB to take over its Bulgarian interests.
"I hope we'll succeed," he said, adding that the company had a "detailed plan" for raising the necessary cash.
AIB spent €216m on the Bulgarian venture in mid-2008, but some believe the stake could now be worth as little as €25m. A spokesman for AIB declined to comment on the prospective deal.
AIB is also understood to be open to selling its Baltic business, which it snapped up for €40m in 2007. The bank yesterday declined to comment on whether any offers had been made for that stake.
Spanish banking giant Santander, which bought AIB's Zachodni stake, is reportedly running the rule over some of AIB's prime UK assets.
Sources in the UK said that there was muted interest from other international banking investors in the Irish banks' assets generally.
"It is an uncertain time and there are a lot of banking assets in the UK up for sale as it is," one source pointed out.