BRUSSELS Dec 19 Belgian financial group KBC
said on Thursday it would sell Antwerp Diamond Bank to a Chinese
investor, the final unit it agreed to sell for approval of a 7
billion euro ($9.5 billion aid package it received at the height
of the financial crisis.
KBC gave no financial details about the sale to
Yinren Group, but said the disposal would free up 100 million
euros of capital, improving its tier one ratio by about 0.2
Because of its niche position in the banking world, selling
Antwerp Diamond bank was a difficult task for the group.
While KBC also announced the completion of the sale of its
Serbian unit on Thursday, it still has to close the sale of its
German unit KBC Deutschland. That, together with the
finalisation of the sale of Antwerp Diamond Bank, will bring to
an end a long process of selling various units.
Since EU regulators told the bank to sell non-core assets in
exchange for the state aid that Belgian federal and regional
governments awarded it in 2008, KBC disposed of a string of
units, reducing its risk-weighted assets by 42 percent.
The company now focuses on its units in Belgium, the Czech
Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria.
It also still has a portfolio of 16 billion euros ($22
billion) in mortgages at its Irish unit.
KBC has also made steady progress paying back its state aid,
having already returned all of what it owed to the Belgian
federal government, and a large chunk of the aid received from
the Flemish regional government.
At the end of the third quarter, it still had 2.33 billion
euros of state aid outstanding to the region of Flanders.
($1 = 0.7316 euros)
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek, editing by Robin Emmott)