Saturday 24 February 2018

Russian bank joins list of suitors for AIB's Zachodni

Joe Brennan

RUSSIA'S largest lender, state-owned Sberbank, has emerged among a raft of other potential bidders for Allied Irish Banks' Polish unit Bank Zachodni WBK.

At least two private-equity firms are also reported to be among parties circling the Warsaw-listed bank ahead of the deadline for first-round bids later this month.

Shares in AIB jumped 3.2pc to 97c yesterday on mounting hopes that a number of parties currently running the rule over information memorandums in Zachodni will go on to submit offers.

Davy analyst Stephen Lyons said he believed Zachodni was likely to attract a premium to its current price. "Based on a 20pc premium, a disposal could generate €2.5bn," he said.

AIB must raise a total of €7.4bn by the end of the year to reach new regulatory capital targets.

However, market sources cautioned that the field of potential suitors was likely to narrow down over the coming weeks.

There were signs yesterday that some prospective bidders were looking to weaken price tension surrounding Zachodni heading into the deadline, with Societe Generale chairman and chief executive Frederic Oudea saying yesterday the price of the bank seemed "too high".

Societe Generale and fellow French banking giant BNP Paribas are known to be among banks considering a bid for AIB's 70.2pc stake in the Polish bank.

Polish law requires an investor that buys more than 66pc of a publicly traded company to bid for the rest of the shares. Recent days have also seen Italy's Intesa SanPaolo confirm its interest in Zachodni, while the head of Poland's second-largest lender, Bank Pekao, part of Italy's Unicredit, has also said he could not rule out submitting an offer.

The Polish government is also trying to assemble a group of state-owned businesses to launch a bid for Zachodni.

Irish Independent

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