Value of AIB holding in Polish unit jumps €400m
THE value of Allied Irish Banks' stake in its Polish unit has jumped almost €400m in the past two days.
Shares in Bank Zachodni climbed to a two-year high yesterday on speculation that whoever buys AIB's 70pc stake will pay more than the market price or be forced to bid for the entire bank.
Zachodni shares jumped as much as 4.9pc in Warsaw yesterday, heading for the highest close since January 2008 and valuing AIB's share in the Polish bank at around €2.6bn.
Yesterday's gains followed a 4pc advance the previous day as investors welcomed news that AIB also plans to sell its US and UK units.
"Investors are betting that a new owner will have to pay a premium for control," said Tomasz Bursa, a Warsaw-based analyst at Ipopema Securities. "There may be a large group of potential buyers as Poland is an attractive market."
"Many" banks are interested in AIB's 70pc stake, Zachodni boss Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday.
Banks such as Societe Generale, BNP Paribas and HSBC may be interested in Zachodni. Under Polish law an investor who buys more than 66pc of a publicly traded company must bid for the rest of the shares.
Polish lenders are benefiting from economic growth in the only European Union country that made it through last year's global slump without contracting. The economy may expand 3pc in 2010, according to a government forecast.
AIB's plan to sell its stake would have "no immediate impact" on Zachodni's rating, Fitch Ratings said yesterday.
"This is the most interesting bank that could come on the market in Poland. It's got a decent size, critical mass, a good deposit base, and it's active in an interesting, economically strong region. It has a good branch network and management."
The bank had assets of €13.2bn at the end of 2009. It made a profit of €196m last year, down from €263m in 2008.