Petroceltic owner eyes Cyprus bank deal

By Geoff Percival

Worldview Capital Management is looking to buy a significant stake in Cyprus’s Hellenic Bank. The activist investment firm wrestled control of Irish-founded exploration company Petroceltic two years ago.

Hellenic is Cyprus’s third largest lender and is looking to buy a large part of the country’s second-largest lender Cyprus Co-operative Bank. The planned deal is being viewed as key to Cyprus’s financial health, with failure risking plunging the country back into the economic crisis it suffered in 2013.

Hellenic recently said it was talking to possible investors over capital needs to fund its move for Cyprus Co-op.

Worldview already owns a less than 5% stake in Hellenic, but wants to buy out the 26% held by New York hedge fund operator Third Point. It has been reported, however, that Third Point wants to sell its shares to PIMCO, JC Flowers and Atlas Merchant Capital.

“We have been a long-term investor in Cyprus, and we are interested to purchase their stake after hearing in the market it’s for sale. Ultimately, of course, the stake may go to the highest bidder, we realise this. But we would like to have a chance to participate,” said Worldview boss Angelo Moskov.

Worldview is chiefly known here for taking Petroceltic private and seizing ownership of its assets, including a sizeable stake in the highly-anticipated Ain Tsila gas field in Algeria following a long-running bruising boardroom battle which finally ended in 2016. n Additional reporting Bloomberg

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