Sale of Raiffeisen's Hungary business could be imminent -paper

BUDAPEST Tue Jan 7, 2014 3:27am EST

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BUDAPEST Jan 7 (Reuters) - The board of directors of Austrian lender Raiffeisen may form an opinion as soon as Tuesday on selling all or part of its Hungarian business, the business daily Napi Gazdasag reported without naming its sources.

A spokesman for Raiffeisen in Hungary declined immediate comment.

The paper said Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government would discuss the issue at a meeting on Wednesday. The government controls a 49 percent stake in Hungary's small Szechenyi Bank, tipped as a potential buyer in local media.

A government spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Orban, who faces elections this year, has often said that more than half the banking sector should be in Hungarian ownership.

Istvan Torocskei, who is also chief executive of the Government Debt Management Agency (AKK), is the majority owner of Szechenyi Bank via a Hungarian firm called T&T Zrt.

A spokeswoman for Szechenyi Bank was not immediately available for comment.

Szechenyi Bank had total assets of 19.6 billion forints ($89.3 million) at the end of 2012, according to a report on its web site. It is majority owned by T&T Real Estate and Holding Co., while the government holds 49 percent.

Raiffeisen's Hungarian operation had total assets worth 1.866 trillion forints at the end of June based on figures published on its website. It posted a loss of 25.6 billion forints in the first half of 2013.

($1 = 219.40 Hungarian forints) (Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Mark Potter)

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