RBI offloads Polish business to BNP Paribas

RBI offloads Polish business to BNP Paribas
By bne IntelliNews April 10, 2018

Austrian banking group Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) has sold its Polish business Raiffeisen Polbank to French bank BNP Paribas for €775mn or 0.95% of the book value, RBI said on April 10.

The deal will bulk up BNP Paribas’ business in Poland to the sixth largest on the competitive Polish market with nearly PLN113bn (€27bn) in assets. For RBI, it is a long-awaited exit from a difficult market.

“This transaction will strengthen our position amongst the largest banks in Poland bringing us much closer to the top five. We are glad to become an active participant in the consolidation of the Polish banking sector,” Przemek Gdanski, CEO of BNP Paribas in Poland, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, RBI CEO Johann Strobl commented that “This transaction represents a significant step towards optimising our group. By gaining capital, we create additional scope for strengthening our market position in relevant markets.”

BNP Paribas is not acquiring RBI’s entire portfolio in Poland. The takeover will cover Raiffeisen Polbank’s corporate, retail, and private banking business without problematic items such as mortgages denominated in the Swiss franc or the portfolio of wind power that it had financed. 

The deal has been long in the making as the environment of low-interest rates and exposure to Swiss franc-denominated mortgages put RBI at a disadvantageous position to sell. The half a million or so mortgages in the Swiss currency became a risk after the zloty weakened against the franc in 2015 causing mortgage repayments to shoot up.

Poland has long hinted at reducing the banking system’s exposure to these loans, which in itself created uncertainty on the market and made the transaction difficult.

The Austrian bank concurrently tried listing 15% of the Raiffeisen Polbank's shares on the Warsaw Stock Exchange but that also proved a hard sell with potential investors.

The deal is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2018, subject to regulatory approvals.