Portugal finance minister to speak on Novo Banco sale on Friday

LISBON, March 30 (Reuters) - Portugal’s government is hopeful that the planned sale of state-rescued lender Novo Banco to U.S. fund Lone Star will be sealed soon and the finance minister will provide explanations about the sale process on Friday, a senior government official said.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa has previously said the government expected to conclude the sale by the end of the week.

Asked during a news briefing after a regular cabinet meeting on Thursday whether the cabinet had approved or discussed the sale, government relations minister Maria Leitao Marques said that Finance Minister Mario Centeno “will give all the explanations regarding the Novo Banco sale process” on Friday.

“Let’s hope that this issue is sealed very soon. We are all interested in this - the government, taxpayers, the country in general, because financial stability is a precious commodity,” she said.

The final stages of negotiating the sale involve not only Portuguese, but also European authorities. U.S. fund Lone Star has offered to inject up to 1 billion euros into the bank in return for a 75 percent stake, according to Reuters sources. (Reporting By Sergio Goncalves, writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Jon Boyle)