November 23, 2012 / 1:55 PM / in 5 years

Austria's Hypo sees 1 bln euro bond sale by end-Dec

VIENNA, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Austrian state bank Hypo Alpe Adria wants to place a 1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) bond by the end of the year to help shore up its balance sheet, it said on Friday.

The Tier 2 bond will be guaranteed by the Republic of Austria and its interest rate will be linked to the 1.83 percent currently paid by government bonds, likely somewhat over 2 percent, Chief Financial Officer Johannes Proksch said.

Sources had told Reuters the bank was readying a billion-euro state-backed bond, and last week Hypo said the government would also pump another 500 million into the troubled bank through a capital increase.

Hypo, nationalised in 2009 to avoid a collapse whose effects would have been felt across central Europe, had been told by regulators to find an extra 1.5 billion euros by the end of the year to raise its capital ratio to 12.04 percent.

Reuters IFR reported this week that Hypo had mandated Citigroup, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley to arrange a series of investor meetings in Europe starting next week.

Proksch said he was confident of getting the sale done by the end of December and that there was considerable interest from institutional investors in Germany.

“We assume that we will get a rating oriented towards the Republic of Austria,” he added. Austrian sovereign debt has triple-A ratings from Moody’s and Fitch and AA+ from S&P.

Proksch said he was also confident Austria would get European Union approval for guaranteeing the bond.

Repeated injections of taxpayer money into Hypo and other nationalised banks is making it harder for Austria to bring its state budget deficit below the EU target ceiling of 3 percent of GDP. It is set to be at least 3.1 percent this year.

Hypo has also been told by Austria’s markets regulator it has to raise its capital ratio further to 12.67 percent by March 2013, which would imply an extra 700 million euros. Proksch said the bank was considering a range of options for how to do this.

Hypo is trying to shrink itself back to health by running down some units and selling operations in southeastern Europe, Austria and Italy, but the sales processes have been slowed by difficult markets.

Proksch said the processes were “on track” but declined to predict how long they might take.

Hypo is also facing a lawsuit from its former owner, German bank BayernLB, which is trying to claim back 2.64 billion euros it invested in Hypo before nationalisation.

Proksch said Hypo had engaged a team of experts to evaluate the claim, who may complete their work by the end of the year, and that the 2.64 billion was currently a liability on the bank’s balance sheet.

Hypo has 4.5 billion euros in debt repayments coming due in 2013. Proksch said the bank had sufficient liquidity for these payments before the bond sale.

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