Majority owner of Montenegro’s troubled Atlas Banka objects to capital hike plan

Majority owner of Montenegro’s troubled Atlas Banka objects to capital hike plan
By bne IntelliNews March 14, 2019

Dusko Knezevic, the majority owner of Montenegro’s troubled Atlas Banka, has objected to a planned capital hike, news outlet CDM reported.

Atlas Banka and Invest Banka Montenegro (IBM) were put under temporary administration by the central bank as its audit showed that the capital of the two lenders did not comply with the minimum risk requirements. While IBM will go bankrupt, Atlas Bank decided to increase its capital and can be stabilised.

In January, Atlas Banka announced an invitation to its shareholders to subscribe for new shares worth €22mn, seeking to increase its capital and resume normal operations. However, no existing owner has shown interest in the new shares, the central bank said. Previously, the bank’s main shareholder was expected to buy the new shares.

In February, the bank’s temporary administrator said that it will launch a public call for a capital increase, allowing investors who are not existing shareholders to subscribe for new shares.

According to Knezevic, this decision is illegal as it breaches the rights of existing shareholders. He also claims the bank was illegally taken from him.

Montenegro’s prosecution has accused Knezevic of abuse of office. The prosecution has issued an international order for his arrest and a month of detention was ruled by a court earlier in January. He has previous history of taking companies into bankruptcy, including TV Atlas in 2011 and the Meljina private hospital in 2018.

In October, Atlas Banka completed a €1.37mn capital hike, after which its capital stood at €32.03mn. The bank posted a net loss of €14.3mn through September.

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