Hungary’s Budapest Bank is ready to list its shares on the Budapest Stock Exchange should its owner opt for such an option, CEO Gyorgy Zolnai said in comments published on January 25.
The Hungarian state bought the lender from GE Capital for $700mn last year as part of a government drive to boost local ownership in the banking sector. The government had talked about merging Budapest Bank with MKB, which it acquired in 2014 from German BayernLB, to create the country’s second biggest lender. That idea, however, seems to have been abandoned.
In an interview for Vilaggazdasag, Zolnai also dismissed such a possibility. MKB and Budapest Bank have little in common, he states, and there is no clear intention from the owners’ that the lenders should be merged.
By November 2015, Budapest Bank had repaid all loans it took from GE Capital, Zolnai says. The bank is operating well; its non-performing loan (NPL) ratio is half of the market average and profit well over the HUF9bn (€29mn) targeted for last year. However, no potential buyer has expressed interest, Zolnai adds.
Hungary’s Economy Minister Mihaly Varga talked about the possibility of combining the sales of Budapest Bank and MKB via listings on the BSE. That would fit the central bank’s goal of having more listed state-owned companies after it took control of the bourse in November.
Budapest is offloading its stake in Budapest Bank and MKB to meet the conditions of a peace deal it brokered last year in a bid to persuade banks to raise lending and help regain the sovereign's investment-grade status. Hungary’s central bank, in charge of restructuring loss-making MKB, has said it wants to sell at least 51% of the bank by the end of June.
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