Slovenia unlikely to proceed with NLB sale at present, deputy PM says

Slovenia unlikely to proceed with NLB sale at present, deputy PM says
By bne IntelliNews June 7, 2017

The Slovenian government will probably not go ahead with plans to sell a stake in the country's largest lender Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) at present, Deputy Prime Minister Karl Erjavec said on June 6, Reuters reported.

The IPO of NLB was previously expected this month. The state said it planned to sell at least 50% of the lender by the end of this year, to be followed by the sale of a further 25% in 2018. The IPO is still expected to go ahead given Ljubljana’s commitments to the EU to privatise the bank. However, the timing is now looking uncertain. It is possible it could be delayed until after the 2018 parliamentary elections, since it also faces opposition from the public. 

"I believe the process of the sale will probably not continue," Erjavec told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the governing coalition, Reuters reported.

Erjavec is president of the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (Desus), the junior coalition partner of Prime Minister Miro Cerar's Modern Centre Party. 

According to Reuters, Erjavec signalled that he believed that the price likely to be achieved in the NLB sale was too low.

"The standpoint of Desus party is that the sale could go through if the price was right, if taxpayers would be repaid and if we would also earn something," he said.

Erjavec had said previously that the sale should bring in at least €1.55bn - the size of the capital increase when the state bailed out NLB in 2013 - but analysts believe Slovenia could at most get about €1bn for the whole bank, Reuters reported on June 6.

NLB was nationalised in 2013 and Slovenia had committed to sell 75% of the bank by the end of 2017 in a restructuring plan that served as a basis for the European Commission's approval of state aid to the bank in the 2013 bailout. Initially the government planned to reduce its current 100% stake to 25% plus one share via an IPO in 2017. However, the European Commission endorsed, on May 11, a request from the Slovenian government for a more gradual sale of the bank - a 50% stake by the end of 2017 and a further 25% by end-2018.

The supervisory board of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), which manages state assets, announced on June 1 it had refused its consent for a proposal on the offer price range for the IPO of NLB.

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