Three banks seal merger to form Hungary's No.2 banking group

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - State-owned Budapest Bank and MKB Bank and savings group Takarekbank (MTB) have signed a deal to form Hungary’s second-largest banking group, the minister responsible for the agreement told state news agency MTI late on Friday.

The deal was widely expected after the three banks announced a strategic alliance in May. It marks a new chapter in the shake-up of a banking system that has seen local players gain influence under nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The state will have a 30.35% stake in the new group, to be called Magyar Bankholding, according to a statement by minister Andrea Mager posted on MTI. The owners of MKB Bank will hold 31.96% and Takarekbank will have 37.69%.

The value of the new banking group will exceed 740 billion forints ($2.35 billion), the minister said.

The government had for years sought a buyer for BudapestBank, which it bought from General Electric GE.N for $700 million in 2015.

Under the new setup, for which central bank approval is still pending, the state’s ownership in Budapest Bank will cease, the minister said.

MKB, which focuses mostly on corporate and private banking, exited a European Union restructuring process at the end of 2019, which had banned it from acquisitions and imposed limits on the size of its balance sheet.

Hungary's market leader is OTP Bank OTPB.BU, centralEurope's largest independent lender.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; editing by John Stonestreet