The Slovenia Times

Abanka sold for EUR 444 million


The transaction is to be completed by the end of the year pending regulatory approval, SSH said, adding that the deal satisfies "all of the commitments given by the Republic of Slovenia to the European Commission with regard to state aid."

The purchase consideration, within the EUR 400-500 million range forecast by most analysts, means Slovenia has not entirely recouped the EUR 781 million cost of recapitalising Abanka and Banka Celje, which was later merged with Abanka, in 2013.

But SSH said the state had received the purchase consideration as well as EUR 178m in dividends in 2016-2018 plus proceeds from the sale of assets that had been transferred to the bad bank. "It has been estimated that these inflows will exceed the value of the [bailout] measures," SSH said.

It said NKBM had been picked as the best bidder in a competitive process that attracted a wide range of potential financial and strategic investors.

Lojze Kozole, an analyst with the brokerage Ilirika, said the price was good. "Considering the market circumstances and comparable banks in our neighbourhood and the fact that it had to be sold, it was sold at a good price," he told the STA.

The price is at the top of the range of estimates Kozole made in October, when he forecast Abanka could be sold at 60-80% of book value, which is more than the state got for NLB.

Kozole attributes the difference to the fact that the entire stake in Abanka has been sold, whereas the state retained a controlling stake in NLB.

John Denhof, the chairman of NKBM, described the transaction as "a historic moment" and "an incredible opportunity for us and Abanka to create a stronger combined bank, which is positive for the Slovenian economy."

NKBM is owned by the US private equity fund Apollo (80%) and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The two banks combined will have a market share roughly equivalent to the current market leader, NLB, and since it is not a long-term owner, Apollo is expected to consolidate and sell the bank in several years.

The transaction was also welcomed by the European Commission. "This was one of the key commitments on the basis of which the Commission adopted a decision approving State aid to Abanka," it said.


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