September 6, 2019 / 10:50 AM / 3 months ago

Serbia buys EBRD, IFC stake in Komercijalna ahead of planned privatization

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia has agreed to buy 34.58% of Komercijalna Banka from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in preparation for a planned privatization.

Serbia wants to increase its stake in the country’s second-biggest lender to be ready for its privatization this month under a 30-month deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Following completion of the purchase, Serbia will own 83.23% of the ordinary shares of the Komercijalna Banka KMBN.BEL, the EBRD said in a statement on Friday. In June Belgrade bought 6.89% of Komercijalna’s ordinary shares from Swedfund and DEG.

“The Republic of Serbia, EBRD and IFC Capitalization Fund are confident that the bank is well positioned to achieve a successful privatization,” it said of Komercijalna, which in the first half of 2019 had a 20% year-on-year increase of profits to 4.3 billion dinars ($40.46 million).

In May Serbia’s finance ministry said prospective bidders for Komercijalna must have been engaged in banking for the past three years and have total assets of more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), or own a minimum 20% stake in a big banking group, among other criteria.

The deadline for submitting non-binding offers is set for Sept. 10. Six potential buyers have so far expressed an interest in the bank, whose shares traded at 3,129 dinars on the Belgrade Stock Exchange, unchanged from Thursday’s price.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Alexander Smith

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