LJUBLJANA, June 14 (Reuters) - Slovenia has received bids for its third largest bank, Abanka, from U.S. investment fund Apollo and Hungarian bank OTP, daily newspaper Delo reported on Friday.
Both bidders, each of which already own a bank in Slovenia, are offering about 400 million euros ($450.80 million) for Abanka, with Apollo’s bid the highest, Delo said, without naming its sources.
State investment fund Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SDH), which is in charge of privatisations in the country, is expected to choose the buyer on Monday and then it may ask the government to confirm the sale, Delo reported.
SDH, Apollo and OTP had no immediate comment.
Some government coalition parties have expressed doubts about the sale in recent weeks and it is still unclear if it will go through.
“SDH should consider carefully whether to continue with the sale of Abanka, particularly to some questionable funds,” Prime Minister Marjan Sarec said on Twitter last week after national television station TV Slovenia ran a story on possible irregularities during a Slovenian bank overhaul in 2013 and 2014.
When asked about the tweet by Reuters, the prime minister’s spokesman Luka Schnabl said Sarec wanted to point out that funds would not necessarily ensure the long-term development of the bank and that he did not aim to discredit any of the possible bidders.
Abanka is currently fully owned by the state after needing a state capital injection in 2014 to avoid collapse due to the amount of bad loans it was holding.
In exchange for European Commission’s approval of state aid to Abanka, Slovenia has an obligation to sell the bank by the middle of 2019. ($1 = 0.8873 euros) (Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
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