April 7, 2014 / 4:01 PM / in 4 years

BNP's Polish unit issues shares to diversify ownership

WARSAW, April 7 (Reuters) - France’s largest listed lender BNP Paribas has carried out a share issue at its small Polish arm, bowing to a demand from Poland’s financial regulator which wants banks with foreign parents to diversify their ownership.

BNP is awaiting a decision from the KNF financial watchdog over its $1.4 billion acquisition last year of Poland’s No.11 lender by assets, Bank BGZ, from Dutch lender Rabobank .

KNF has signalled its scepticism about further consolidation in the Polish banking sector and said it would not rule on the deal before August.

The regulator has not explicitly linked the share issue to giving a green light for the BGZ deal, but BNP does not want to do anything to incur KNF’s displeasure at a time when it is seeking approval for the takeover.

On Monday, BNP Paribas Polska made good on the bank’s earlier promises and agreed to a share issue of over five million new shares - put on hold last year due to BNP’s takeover plans.

The issue raised 228.5 million zlotys ($75.2 million).

The Polish BNP unit, currently 99.89-percent owned by its French parent, issued the shares to meet KNF’s requirement to raise its free float to 15 percent.

The regulator is applying that requirement to all banks with foreign parents, because it is concerned about their ownership being concentrated in too few hands.

$1 = 3.0385 Polish Zlotys Reporting by Adrian Krajewski; Editing by Mark Potter

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