Sberbank in hunt for Volksbanken VBI unit -sources
VIENNA Feb 7 (Reuters) - Russia's Sberbank SBER03.MM is among three potential buyers eyeing Austrian lender Oesterreichische Volksbanken AG's VBI eastern European arm, sources close to the matter said.
Oesterreichische Volksbanken AG (OTVVp.VI), Austria's fourth-biggest lender, in December last year put its 51 percent stake in Volksbanken International and its sister leasing business up for sale. [ID:nLDE6B61NG]
France's Banque Populaire Caisse d'Epargne and Germany's DZ Bank/WGZ Bank each own 24.5 percent of the unit.
"We understand that a 100 percent potential sale is on the table, subject to valuation," one of the sources said. A deal might emerge by mid-year, another source said.
A Volksbanken source said that there were more than three bidders, but declined to give more details.
Oesterreichische Volksbanken is under pressure to raise money to start paying back 1 billion euros in state aid it got during the financial crisis, and is due to pay back 300 million euros of aid in 2011. [ID:nLDE6B61NG].
"I think the plan is to use some of the proceeds of the sale to help towards the 300 million euros," the person added.
Agreeing a price for VBI could be tricky, with the seller looking for upwards of 1.8 billion euros ($2.44 billion) according to one source, and buyers pitching for a price tag of no more than VBI's equity of 1.2 billion, according another.
(Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze and Philipp Halstrick in Frankfurt, Oksana Kobzeva in Moscow and Victoria Howley in London, Editing by Douwe Miedema)
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