AIB to sell stake in Polish bank

AIB is expected to sell its €2.8 billion 70.47% stake in Warsaw-based Bank Zachodni WBK in the fourth quarter or the first quarter of next year, chief executive of the Polish bank, Mateusz Morawiecki, said at a news conference in Warsaw.

However, Davy’s Stephen Lyons said AIB will not be rushed into a sale of this prized asset at a fire-sale price, stressing that AIB only needs to have a disposal agreement in place by year-end.

BZ WBK reported net profit of 233 million zloty (PLN) (€59.32m) in the first quarter, up from PLN119m a year earlier and in line with an average PLN234m forecast from seven analysts.

“We’ve had a good first quarter and good forecasts for the rest of the year,” the bank’s chief executive Mateusz Morawiecki said, adding that Poland’s economy should post “cautious growth”.

Goodbody’s Ken Darmody said the results were brought forward by a couple weeks, with speculation in the media suggesting that this was to allow companies looking to get involved in the sale to have a deeper and quicker look at the financials.

As expected, first-quarter net interest income rose 17% to PLN424.5m as interest costs decreased with banks being less aggressive in fighting for clients deposits.

Provisions against non-performing loans fell 56% on the year to PLN70.4m from PLN160.7m.

Mr Morawiecki said the falling trend should continue overall in coming quarters and that average quarterly provisions in 2010 should be lower than in 2009, while not excluding the possibility of increases in some quarters.

Operating profit more than doubled to PLN348.1m

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