Field narrows in battle for AIB's Bank Zachodni stake
THERE may be just two bidders in the frame to buy AIB's majority stake in Poland's Bank Zachodni after local reports suggested another potential buyer could be out of the process.
As many as eight major institutions were linked with AIB's Bank Zachodni stake earlier in the summer, but the list was whittled down to four, who were then expected to submit second bids by August 20.
Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo reportedly withdrew its interest in Zachodni last week, and reports yesterday said BNP Paribas was also out of the running.
French daily 'La Tribune' yesterday quoted a BNP Paribas source as saying "we have made our offer, but their price is too high", triggering speculation that the French bank was no longer a contender.
If BNP Paribas is out of the running, the field would narrow to just Spanish bank Santander, which is believed to be considering a bulk sale of several AIB assets, and Polish bank PKO, which is the favourite of the Polish authorities.
A spokesman for AIB yesterday declined to comment on any aspect of the Zachodni sale, citing the bank's ongoing policy of not commenting on its disposals.
Analysts believe AIB could reap capital benefits of as much as €2.4bn from the Zachodni sale, a substantial haul as the Irish bank looks to improve its capital position by €7.4bn by the end of the year.
AIB chief executive Colm Doherty recently said Zachodni was at the "second phase" of a sales process, with "binding bids" expected by late August.
Mr Doherty said that the bank was hoping to complete both the Zachodni deal and the sale of its 22pc stake in US bank M&T "no later than the end of September".