Raiffeisen selling Hungary unit can't be taken for granted-minister on TV

BUDAPEST Tue Jan 7, 2014 4:53pm EST

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BUDAPEST Jan 7 (Reuters) - It cannot be taken for granted that Austrian lender Raiffeisen will sell its Hungarian unit, and the Hungarian government is under no pressure to buy any bank, Economy Minister Mihaly Varga told public television M1 on Tuesday.

Varga was asked about Raiffeisen after local media reports said small Hungarian Szechenyi Bank, in which the state holds 49 percent, could buy the Austrian lender's Hungarian unit soon.

Varga said he would not bet that Raiffeisen would sell its unit.

"We should not forget that this bank had generated significant profits for years for its owners, and even if they now temporarily mull selling it, we should not exclude the possibility that they change their mind in the end," Varga said.

Varga said the government had to be careful how to spend taxpayers' money.

"If we think that it is not in the interest of the Hungarian state to take part in banking transactions, then we will have to state clearly ... that we do not support this deal. But we are not there yet," Varga added.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Sandor Peto)

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