Hungary reportedly sells MKB Bank

By bne IntelliNews March 29, 2016

Hungary has sold a controlling stake in MKB Bank, local press claimed on March 29. However, the new owner of the country's fourth largest lender will not be revealed until the summer.

Hungary accepted a binding bid for the lender last week, Portfolio.hu reports, citing unnamed sources, and MKB Bank has now changed hands. The list of potential bidders for MKB, which was bought by the state and put under the management of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank (MNB) in 2014, dropped from five to just two last week, Vilaggazdasag reported. The final list consisted of two private equity funds, according to the newspaper.

However, speculation has risen that the MNB itself may have bought MKB via six non-profits, using foreign private equity funds as cover. Both MNB Deputy Governor Marton Nagy, and the foundations set up by the central bank, rejected the claims to vg.hu.

The government bought MKB from Germany's BayernLB for €55mn, claiming it would reprivatise the bank soon. The European Commission gave the go-ahead for the Hungarian government to provide aid for the restructuring of the bank in December. According to that deal, MKB must be listed by the end of 2019; the MNB has said it wants to offload a majority stake by this June.

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