Ross to take "significant" part of Bank of Cyprus's 1 bln-euro share sale

Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:04pm EDT

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LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) - U.S. billionaire Wilbur Ross said on Tuesday that he will take a "significant" portion of the 1 billion euros ($1.34 billion) worth of new shares being sold by Bank of Cyprus but that the complexities of the deal made it impossible to say how much at this point.

Bank of Cyprus announced on Monday night that institutional investors, including some introduced by Ross, wanted to buy 1 billion euros worth of shares in the bank, but might only be able to get 800 million euros worth if existing shareholders also commit more capital.

"We're not 100 percent sure of how many shares any of us will end up buying," Ross told Reuters in a phone interview. "The board (of Bank of Cyprus) will have to decide from whom to take those shares (if existing shareholders want new shares as well)."

Ross said the uncertainty around the exact outcome was the reason that the other investors introduced by him to Bank of Cyprus had not yet been publicly named. Those investors have together committed to buying about 400 million euros worth of shares.

Ross described them as "normal institutions".

"The key thing is the group of investors is going to play an active role in the affairs of the bank," he said.

The 76-year-old, who's invested in other crisis-stricken banks including Bank of Ireland and Greece's Eurobank , said he had not yet had time to look at Portugal's troubled Banco Espirito Santo, which could announce a capital increase when it publishes half-year results on Wednesday night.

"We're always looking for opportunities," he said of his fund's plans for euro zone bank investments later in 2014. "We're continuing to look at Italian banks, at Spain, at Portugal," he added. (1 US dollar = 0.7457 euros) (Reporting By Laura Noonan; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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