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BELGRADE (Serbia), June 24 (SeeNews) - Seven investors are interested in the sale of one of Serbia's top lenders, blue-chip Komercijalna Banka [BEL:KMBN], finance minister Sinisa Mali said.
This interest is bigger than the government had expected, Mali told public TV and radio broadcaster RTS late on Friday.
"The investors will now look at Komerciajlna Banka's books and submit their bids after that," Mali added. "I expect a successful end to this process by the end of the year, as we have planned."
In late May, the finance ministry invited expressions of interest in the sale of at least 50.1% in the bank, including the entire state-owned stake of 41.75%.
The deadline for submitting letters of interest expired on June 21.
In addition to purchasing the state-owned stake, the buyer would acquire all or part of the 41.48% shareholding interest in Komercijalna Banka, currently held by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), IFC Capitalization Fund, German investment fund DEG and Swedfund, the finance ministry said earlier.
This way, the investor will be able to control a stake of up to 83.23%.
Komercijalna Banka was the third largest lender in Serbia in terms of assets at the end of 2018, behind Belgrade-based Banca Intesa and UniCredit Bank Srbija, according to central bank figures.
In February, the finance ministry signed an agreement with a consortium led by French investment bank Lazard Freres for the provision of financial advisory services on the privatisation of Komercijalna Banka.