Sunday 25 June 2017

PKO 'offering' best Zachodni deal

AIB managing director Colm
Doherty is working against a
deadline to sell off Bank
Zachodni and US affiliate M&T
AIB managing director Colm Doherty is working against a deadline to sell off Bank Zachodni and US affiliate M&T
Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

AIB could turn its majority stake in Bank Zachodni into hard cash in as little as three months if it sells to Polish state bank PKO, a Polish minister will claim today.

Poland's deputy treasury minister Krzysztof Walenczak is flying to Ireland to love-bomb AIB's major stakeholders, including the Department of Finance and the National Treasury Management Agency.

The move comes as the embattled Irish bank prepares to receive final offers for its 70pc Bank Zachodni stake by tomorrow, with PKO, BNP Paribas and Santander all expected to bid.

Sources in Poland last night said Mr Walenczak would stress that the PKO bid had a "certainty and speed of execution" that neither BNP or Santander can offer.

With 90 years of history in the Polish market, PKO is confident that it can get swift regulatory approval for the deal.

The state bank also argues that its deal would be quicker since it would not have to be approved by the European Commission.

Speed

The often-lengthy European Commission process can be substituted with a Polish process if both merging companies make more than two-thirds of their revenues in Poland, a test PKO and Bank Zachodni both pass.

"PKO is in a position to place a serious bid for Bank Zachodni at speed -- it could be closed in as little as three months," said one source.

"AIB wouldn't be getting paper money, they'd be getting real money."

The speed is seen as a particular selling point to AIB since the Irish bank is fast approaching a December deadline to improve its capital base by €7.4bn, with the taxpayer set to pick up any shortfall in exchange for greater ownership.

PKO sources stressed that their bank was also committed to making a "competitive" bid, with offers in the 10bn to 12bn zloty (€2.5bn to €3bn) range.

Sources at the Department of Finance last night said Brian Lenihan was not scheduled to meet Mr Walenczak, although the Polish politician was likely to meet some of the minister's officials.

It is understood the decision on who to sell to will be made at executive level at AIB.

A spokesman for AIB declined to comment on the Zachodni process, citing an ongoing policy of not commenting on commercially sensitive negotiations.

Irish Independent

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