The Slovenia Times

NLB and KBC examining joint sale of insurer NLB Vita


"Given that this additional commitment stayed valid despite the successfully concluded privatisation of the bank last November, the two owners, meaning NLB and KBC are examining possibilities for a joint sale of their share in life insurer NLB Vita, since the Slovenian market is not a strategic one for KBC," the two financial companies wrote in a joint press release.

While stressing the procedure is being conducted with "utmost diligence", they will refrain from further comments about the details.

The Slovenian business newspaper Finance reported on Monday that the two sellers are expecting to get EUR 20-30 million for the insurer.

NLB Vita posted a record EUR 8.3 million in net profit in 2018 on gross premiums of EUR 76.9 million, up 9% from 2017, of which over EUR 73 million came from life insurance.

NLB announced it would continue to cooperate with NLB Vita in the marketing of its products. "Irrespective of the ownership of NLB Vita, NLB will remain the sales network for NLB Vita products," the bank wrote.

NLB Vita is the second largest life insurer on the Slovenian market, holding a 14.8% market share at the end of 2018. It was established by the NLB and KBC, the latter formerly being the second biggest owner of Slovenia's largest bank.

NLB will have to sell its share in NLB Vita because the state failed to privatise the agreed stake in NLB - 75% minus one share - by the end of last year. 65% were sold last year and another 10% in June this year.

While the NLB management hoped to avoid the sale of the insurer, today's press release confirms the bank was not able to cancel the commitment in talks with the European Commission.

National broadcaster Radio Slovenija reported today that NLB had had the option of keeping NLB Vita, but at the cost of having the ban on takeovers imposed on the bank prolonged by a few more years. It seems that NLB, which is already eyeing takeover targets, decided selling the insurer was the better option.

By selling its 75% stake and by receiving NLB dividends since 2015, the state has received EUR 1.21 billion from the country's no. 1 bank.

This still falls short of the EUR 1.55 billion injected in the bank in 2013 as part of the national bank bailout. The European Commission demanded that the bank be privatised in exchange for allowing the bailout.


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