Slovenia's fin min to discuss NLB sale with EU competition commissioner

Slovenia's fin min to discuss NLB sale with EU competition commissioner NLB Banka Beograd headquarters in Belgrade Source: www.nlb.rs

LJUBLJANA (Slovenia), June 19 (SeeNews) - Slovenia's finance minister is scheduled to meet the European commissioner for competition in July to discuss the sale of a majority state stake in Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB), after the sale process was halted earlier this month, the finance ministry said.

There is a general agreement that a solution to NLB's sale will be found in cooperation with the European commissioner for competition, the finance ministry said on Friday following a meeting between finance minister Mateja Vranicar Erman and officials of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank (ECB).

Everybody recognises the specific circumstances which have to be taken into consideration when deciding the future of the bank, the ministry noted.

It added that the ECB and the European Commission want the issue resolved soon.

On June 8, the government refused to approve the minimum offer price and the offer price range for NLB shares, following which the procedure for the sale of the country's largest bank via an IPO was cancelled.

Acting as the assembly of sovereign holding company SDH, the government decided to reject the minimum offer price of 55 euro ($61.7) per NLB share and the offer price range of between 55 and 71 euro per share.

It also said at the time that the risk posed by Croatian lawsuits over Yugoslav-era savings deposits would prevent a successful sale of the bank. Namely, NLB had been taken to court in Croatia over the deposits that had been repaid to the bank's former customers in Croatia by local banks, which then decided to seek compensation in court.

Last month, SDH said it plans to sell a 50% stake in NLB by the end of the year, and a further 25% by the end of 2018, for which it was later granted permission by the Commission.

NLB showed a minor capital shortfall under the adverse scenario of the stress test conducted by the European Central Bank in October 2014.

NLB has been 100% state-owned since 2013, when the Slovenian government stepped in to recapitalise it and two other lenders - NKBM and Abanka, narrowly avoiding an international bailout. The same year, Slovenia committed to the European Commission to sell part of NLB within four years.

($=0.8919 euro)

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