KBC sells Slovenian bank stake to Slovenia

The logo of Belgian banking and insurance group KBC is seen at the entrance of the company's headquarters in Brussels February 9, 2012. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS/LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Belgian banking and insurance group KBC KBC.BR said it had agreed to sell its 22 percent stake in Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) to Slovenia, one of the last remaining divestments required by EU regulators.

Slovenian Finance Minister Janez Sustersic said the 2.8 million euro ($3.70 million) transaction should ease the sale of NLB, the country’s biggest bank, planned for next year, as the government will become the unlisted bank’s sole owner with a stake of about 85 percent.

He also said he expected NLB’s contingent convertible bonds (CoCos) worth 320 million euros, which the Slovenian government bought in July, to be converted into an ownership stake in the bank in the first half of 2013, when NLB’s Core Tier 1 capital ratio is expected to fall below 7 percent.

KBC, which received 7 billion euros ($9.26 billion) of aid in the 2008-2009 financial crisis, said the deal would have a negative 100 million euro impact on its fourth-quarter results, with a negligible effect on KBC’s capital.

KBC still has to find buyers for Antwerp Diamond Bank, KBC Bank Deutschland and Serbian unit KBC Banka. KBC Chief Executive Johan Thijs said in a statement that the latter was proceeding well, but the sale of the Belgian and German assets was proving more challenging.

Slovenia is struggling to revive growth after four years of decline or stagnation and enforce public spending cuts, pension and labor reforms to avoid an international bailout.

Its banks, mostly state-owned, have a total of 6.7 billion euros of bad loans, equivalent to 19 percent of its annual GDP. ($1 = 0.7563 euros)

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Marja Novak; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Helen Massy-Beresford