October 12, 2017 / 6:57 AM / in 9 months

HSH CEO says "very close" to solution for bank - WirtschaftsWoche

FRANKFURT, Oct 12 (Reuters) - HSH Nordbank expects to receive offers for the German shipping finance provider as a whole and not just for parts of the business, Chief Executive Stefan Ermisch told German weekly WirtschaftsWoche ahead of an end-October deadline for bids.

“We are very close to an economically sensible solution,” he told the magazine.

HSH’s owners, the German states of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg, have to privatise the bank under European state-aid rules by the end of February 2018. It had said indicative offers submitted by June paved the way for a sale.

HSH, which had total assets of 84 billion euros ($100 billion) as of the end of 2016 and saw its pretax profit plummet 73 percent to 121 million euros last year, sought backing from its owners after risky assets turned sour in 2008.

It got hit further by the slump in global trade after the financial crisis and the core bank currently has 7 billion euros in ship loans on its books.

The European Commission, HSH and its owners negotiated for years over a plan to restore HSH to health and avoid future state aid.

Sources familiar with the matter said in April that Chinese conglomerate HNA Group and Apollo Global Management were looking to bid for HSH.

Ermisch told WirtschaftsWoche that a financial investor may be just the right buyer for HSH and could set off a wave of consolidation in the sector.

“I expect that HSH will be the first but not the last bank that goes this route,” he said. ($1 = 0.8422 euros) (Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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