Polish banks should be smart in buying foreign-owned rivals: central bank

WARSAW Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:07am EDT

Marek Belka, Poland's central bank governor, attends a news conference at the bank's headquarters in Warsaw June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Marek Belka, Poland's central bank governor, attends a news conference at the bank's headquarters in Warsaw June 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kacper Pempel

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish central bank governor Marek Belka said the country's banks should look for opportunities and attempt to buy local rivals owned by foreign lenders in a smart and intelligent way.

Poland, with a banking system 70 percent controlled by foreign lenders, has seen a spate of deals in recent years as some parent institutions under pressure to boost capital sold their holdings.

"It is not about taking something from somebody. But if somebody is not successful, take them over," Belka said in an interview in Gazeta Wyborcza daily, adding that he advocated banks seizing the opportunity "in a smart and intelligent way".

Earlier this year Poland's largest lender PKO BP PKO.WA announced a takeover of Nordea Bank Polska NDAP.WA valued at 2.83 billion zlotys ($907.31 million).

In recent years, Commerzbank's (CBKG.DE) BRE Bank BREP.WA, millennium BCP's (BCP.LS) Bank Millennium MILP.WA, and Bank Pekao PEO.WA have all been tipped as being potentially up for sale.

Poland's financial sector supervisor said in June that foreign banks are not targeting any Polish lenders at the moment as there is little space for further consolidation.

Belka also repeated his stance that Poland should not hurry in entering the euro zone.

"Looking at it as an economist, especially as the head of the central bank I would refrain from entering," he said.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by David Evans)

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