Sweden's Nordax bids $2.1 billion for Bank Norwegian parent, shares jump

OSLO/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden’s Nordax Bank offered on Thursday to buy Oslo-listed Norwegian Finans Holding, the owner of Bank Norwegian, in a cash transaction valued at 17.8 billion Norwegian crowns ($2.10 billion).

Norwegian Finans (NFH) shares surged 21% to trade at 99 crowns by 1057 GMT, above Nordax’s bid of 95, suggesting investors expect more bids could emerge.

“Nordax strongly believes that Bank Norwegian will have excellent opportunities to further expand its business together with Nordax,” the Swedish firm said.

Nordax said it had previously made undisclosed proposals to the board of NFH, although Thursday’s offer was higher and contained fewer conditions.

In response, NFH said its shareholders should refrain from taking any action until the board has given its recommendation.

“The board of directors will consider any offer launched,” it said in a statement.

Bank Norwegian is an online bank launched in 2007 by Norwegian Air Shuttle co-founder Bjoern Kjos, focusing primarily on consumer loans, credit cards and savings accounts.

The combined firm would have around two million customers and overall lending of 64 billion Swedish crowns ($7.60 billion), Nordax said.

If successful, the joint company would seek to expand into new European markets with a goal of becoming a leading pan-European niche bank, it added.

Completion of the offer hinges on Nordax getting at least 50.1% of the shares in NFH. The company has so far secured a stake of 22.7% in NFH from Nordic Capital Fund IX3 and Sampo.

“Launch of the offer will be subject to Nordax receiving access to and having completed a due diligence review of NFH, including its subsidiary Bank Norwegian AS, to its satisfaction,” Nordax added.

($1 = 8.4887 Norwegian crowns)

($1 = 8.4225 Swedish crowns)

Reporting by Terje Solsvik in Oslo and Helena Soderpalm in Stockholm, editing by Gwladys Fouche and Jason Neely