Buyer of Hungary’s MKB Bank remains a mystery as privatisation closes

By bne IntelliNews June 30, 2016

The mystery over the ultimate identity of the buyer of one of Hungary's largest banks in a privatisation deal remains unsolved, even as the official announcement of the closing of the deal was made on June 30.

While the representatives of the funds that have bought shares in MKB bank were introduced at a press conference - including Indian-born businessman Rakesh Kumar Aggarwal - it was made clear that the ultimate investors behind the deal are not to be revealed. Speculation that Hungary’s central bank is the actual purchaser via its six controversial foundations has been rife.

The Magyar Nemzeti Bank (MNB) which has overseen MKB - previously Hungary's fourth largest bank - since it was bought by the state in 2014 has repeatedly rejected such claims. However, the financing and timing of the establishment of the private equity funds that have been announced as the buyers appear highly questionable.

According to the announced deal, Luxembourg-based Blue Robin Investments and Hungarian private equity fund Metis each bought 45% of MKB, while Hungarian pension fund Pannonia took the remaining 10%. The purchase price for 100% of the lender was HUF37bn (€117.8mn).

The full purchase price was transferred on June 29, Janos Jaksa, manager of the Metis fund said. He also added that – in line with an agreement with the European Commission – shares of MKB will be floated by the end of 2019.

The new 'owners' of MKB also announced at a press conference that MKB will launch an employee share program. According to Barna Semsey, advisor for Blue Robin Investments, “15% of the bank’s shares will go to teh bank's management” before the IPO, 444.hu reports.

Adam Balog quit his role as deputy governor of the MNB around a year ago to become chairman and CEO of MKB. Further details of the employee share program were not disclosed.

There are "ongoing informal negotiations with the EBRD” about the international institution buying a stake in MKB the funds also claimed. Earlier an EBRD spokesman noted that it had "discussed the investment opportunity with a number of potential bidders but did not itself submit a bid."

 

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