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Sep 18, 2007 14:45 EEST
SOFIA (Bulgaria), September 18 (SeeNews) – Shares in Bulgaria's Economic and Investment Bank (EIBank) closed 11.5% higher on Tuesday on news of a possible takeover by Belgian financial group KBC or Spanish bank La Caixa, brokers said.
“EIBank rose significantly, by over 6.0%, after a news for talks with two potential majority owners,” Tsvetelina Avramova, a broker with STS Finance, told SeeNews.
EIBank shares closed at 145 levs ($102.7/74 euro), up 11.5% and their average weighted price rose by 6.2% to 141.7 levs in volume of some 760 shares on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange.
Media on Tuesday reported that EIBank was in talks with the two potential buyers to sell a majority stake, saying the winner was likely to be chosen this or next week.
EIBank investor relations director Nikolai Lazarov neither confirmed nor denied the reports when contacted by SeeNews on Tuesday.
“I think this [possible takeover] is the reason for the rise,” Iva Radicheva of Ug Market brokerage said.
EIBank ( www.eibank.bg ) is 48.63% owned by Novator Finance Bulgaria, a company of Icelandic tycoon Thor Bjorgolfsson. Bjorgolfsson earlier this year sold 65% of Bulgaria’s dominant fixed-line telecoms operator BTC to AIG Global Investment Group for 1.08 billion euro ($1.5 billion).
The bank was the ninth largest bank by assets in Bulgaria at end-July. It reported a 20.6% year-on-year fall in net profit for the first half of 2007 to 16.9 million levs.
Twenty-five locally-registered banks and branches of five foreign banks operate in the southeast European country of 7.7 million people, which joined the European Union in January.
(1 euro = 1.95583 Bulgarian levs)
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