SOFIA, May 27 (Reuters) - Bulgaria’s central bank said on Friday it has given Luxembourg-registered consumer lending group 4finance preliminary approval to buy indirectly a small Bulgarian lender, TBI Bank.
TBI Bank, which ranks 22nd among Bulgaria’s 27 lenders in terms of assets, is fully owned by Dutch-registered TBIF Financial Services and is one of its main assets.
Bulgaria is recovering from its biggest banking crisis since the 1990s after its fourth largest lender collapsed two years ago. Seeking to restore trust in the banking system, the central bank has tightened its supervision. Senior bank officials and analysts have said they expect consolidation in the sector.
In March, Kardan Financial Services agreed to sell TBIF for about 69 million euros ($77 million).
“The approval is given on the commitments made by 4finance Holding S.A. to maintain the current business model of the bank ... to follow closely regulatory requirements and to provide capital support to achieve its strategic goals,” the central bank said in a statement.
4finance is an online and mobile consumer lending group, headquartered in Riga and operating in 13 countries, mainly in Europe.
Bulgaria is carrying out asset quality reviews and stress tests on its banks. The results will be announced in August. ($1 = 0.8983 euros) (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova)