Czech billionaire's PPF seeks public offer for MONETA shares, Air Bank talks

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech billionaire Petr Kellner’s PPF group aims to launch a public offer for shares in MONETA Money Bank and sell its Air Bank unit to the lender in a share swap that renews an attempt at a deal that fizzled two years ago.

Czech lender MONETA said in a filing on Friday it had received the wording of a public proposal from PPF subsidiary Tanemo seeking up to 20% of MONETA shares, with a right to increase that to 29%, at a price of 80.00 crowns ($3.73), above Friday’s close of 67.10 crowns.

PPF, which holds a 0.63% stake in MONETA, also invited MONETA to negotiate the acquisition of PPF’s Air Bank and other financial groups in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, including PPF’s Home Credit units, MONETA said.

The share swap for Air Bank would result in PPF gaining a 39.7% stake in MONETA, after MONETA increased its total shares to 847.4 million from the current 511 million, the filing said.

PPF confirmed it sent an offer to MONETA but declined to comment further.

PPF, owned by Kellner, the richest Czech businessman with a net worth of $19.6 billion estimated by Forbes, could gain up to a 57.2% stake in MONETA under the proposed offer and deal.

MONETA said it was ready to negotiate and that management would give an opinion by Jan. 29. The offer would open from Feb. 8, according to its wording.

PPF’s Home Credit unit had sought a similar deal valued at 19.8 billion crowns ($923.16 million) in 2018, which fell apart in 2019 after MONETA sought a reduction in the valuation of Home Credit assets in the transaction.

MONETA is the country’s sixth largest bank in a market dominated by foreign-owned banks. It is owned in a 100% free float since General Electric’s financial wing listed it in 2016.

($1 = 21.4480 Czech crowns)

Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Paul Simao