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Banks

Poland expects more foreign owners to sell banks in 2017

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland expects more foreign bank owners to sell their holdings in the country in 2017 following UniCredit's CRDI.MI sale of the country's second largest lender, Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday.

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Raiffeisen RBIV.VI has so far failed to find a buyer for its Polish unit after state-run lender Alior Bank ALRR.WA ended talks to buy Raiffeisen Polbank.

However, Poland's state-run insurer PZU PZU.WA and fund PFR did agree to buy UniCredit's Pekao PEO.WA for 2.5 billion euros ($2.60 billion) earlier this month.

“I expect that next year we may see more financial institutions being put up for sale... we’re observing this and our approach is opportunistic,” Morawiecki told reporters.

The Polish government has been increasing its sway over the banking sector in what analysts have said is an attempt to gain more control over the slowing economy.

Following the Pekao purchase by PZU and PFR, Polish capital now controls the country's banking sector, which were for years dominated by foreign investors such as Commerzbank CBKG.DE, Santander SAN.MC, BNP Paribas BNPP.PA, GE GE.N, Citi C.N, Credit Agricole, and BCP BCP.LS.

“We have done it at an ideal moment... This domestication makes sense,” Morawiecki said, adding that Warsaw has no plans to force Pekao into any “silly credit decisions”..

Deutsche Bank DBKGn.DE was considering selling its Polish unit, sources have said, while analysts have long speculated that all banks with a market share less than 5 percent may be put up for sale sooner or later.

And a deal to buy Raiffeisen Polbank IPO-RBP.WA may yet be on the cards after talks with PZU-controlled Alior failed.

“It is not beyond my imagination,” Morawiecki said when asked if Poland or Alior may resume talks with Raiffeisen.

($1 = 0.9625 euros)

Editing by Alexander Smith

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