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KBC sheds NLB stake
Posted on Monday, 31 December 2012 15:13
KBC is offloading its 22.0 per cent stake in troubled lender Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) to the Slovenian government for EUR 2.77 million as part of a radical shake-up ordered by European regulators in exchange for state aide received during the financial crisis.

The Belgian banking and insurance group’s decision to sell its interest in the troubled local lender, which is burdened by a weak balance sheet, by early 2013 marks an end to a decade-long affiliation.

KBC bought a 34.0 per cent stake in NLB Bank in 2002 for EUR 435.00 million, viewing the investment as a springboard into other markets in Central Europe.

At the time the company agreed to hold off on increasing its equity participation until 2005, though differences of opinion over the long-term strategy for the Slovenian affiliate soon scuppered these plans.

By 2006 KBC decided to limit its involvement to merely that of a financial investor, paring down its interest to 22.0 per cent, but was not satisfied to remain as a minority shareholder with no operational management say.

With this in mind the Belgian group put its minority stake in NLB on the block, after running its divestment strategy past the European Commission.

In June 2012 the Slovenian government decided to scout out a long-term partner for the country’s largest banking and financial institution, which consisted of 46 lenders companies as at 30th September 2012 and holds retail franchises in Macedonia and Kosovo.

Over the last six months it tabled a number of measures designed to bring about a quicker exit from the financial crisis the region’s economy is facing and make investments in the local banking sector more attractive, according to the statement.

NLB, which has a presence in 13 countries, recorded a pre-tax profit of EUR 340.70 million and a net profit of EUR 16.20 million in the first nine months of 2012.

Assets totalled EUR 14.92 billion as at 30th September 2012. The estimated capital adequacy ratio stood at 11.7 per cent and the core tier 1 ratio at 10.2 per cent on the same date.

KBC noted that while it is offloading NLB to the Slovenian government, it is also in discussions with a number of interested parties for Antwerp Diamond Bank in Belgium, KBC Banka in Serbia and Germany’s KBC Bank Deutschland.

© Zephus Ltd