Austria sees Hypo Balkans sale within weeks

VIENNA, July 8 Tue Jul 8, 2014 7:23am EDT

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VIENNA, July 8 (Reuters) - Austria expects to pick a buyer for nationalised lender Hypo Alpe Adria's Balkans network within weeks, Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger told parliament on Tuesday.

"We are in a sale process with seven bidders. I expect we will be able to make a decision in the weeks ahead and thus give the active part of the bank to the best bidder," Spindelegger said without being more specific.

He was addressing a lower house debate on a controversial law which would split up the bank that Austria nationalised in 2009 and impose losses on some junior creditors, despite guarantees from the bank's home province of Carinthia.

The European Commission last year ordered Austria to find a buyer for the Balkans network by mid-2015 in return for approving state aid for the lender.

The Balkans network comprises six banks and three leasing operations in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro.

The business, valued on Hypo's books at around 500 million euros ($682 million) after writedowns last year, lost 286 million euros in 2013 after booking 340 million in risk provisions.

It had 8.6 billion euros in total assets, a 6.4 billion loan book, 4.1 billion in deposits and a non-performing loan ratio of 12.3 percent at the end of last year.

($1 = 0.7331 Euros) (Reporting by Angelika Gruber and Michael Shields; Editing by David Holmes)

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