VIENNA Feb 7 Russia's Sberbank SBER03.MM is
among three potential buyers eyeing Austrian lender
Oesterreichische Volksbanken AG's VBI eastern European arm,
sources close to the matter said.
Oesterreichische Volksbanken AG OTVVp.VI, Austria's
fourth-biggest lender, in December last year put its 51 percent
stake in Volksbanken International and its sister leasing
business up for sale. [ID:nLDE6B61NG]
France's Banque Populaire Caisse d'Epargne and Germany's DZ
Bank/WGZ Bank each own 24.5 percent of the unit.
"We understand that a 100 percent potential sale is on the
table, subject to valuation," one of the sources said. A deal
might emerge by mid-year, another source said.
A Volksbanken source said that there were more than three
bidders, but declined to give more details.
Oesterreichische Volksbanken is under pressure to raise
money to start paying back 1 billion euros in state aid it got
during the financial crisis, and is due to pay back 300 million
euros of aid in 2011. [ID:nLDE6B61NG].
"I think the plan is to use some of the proceeds of the sale
to help towards the 300 million euros," the person added.
Agreeing a price for VBI could be tricky, with the seller
looking for upwards of 1.8 billion euros ($2.44 billion)
according to one source, and buyers pitching for a price tag of
no more than VBI's equity of 1.2 billion, according another.
(Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze and Philipp Halstrick
in Frankfurt, Oksana Kobzeva in Moscow and Victoria Howley in
London, Editing by Douwe Miedema)