Seven international financial services firms eye AIB’s Polish bank stake

A MINIMUM of seven international financial services companies have expressed an interest in acquiring AIB’s 70% stake in Polish player, Bank Zachodni, according to reports emanating from Poland.

While AIB – which, earlier this year announced its intention to sell off all of its overseas operations in order to meet its €7.4bn post-NAMA capital requirements – declined to comment on the matter yesterday, media reports from Poland suggest that suitors are beginning to stack up for the Bank Zachodni stake.

As well as Poland’s two largest lenders, the state-controlled PKO Bank Polski and Bank Pekao SA, it is believed that the likes of Intesa Sanpaolo SpA of Italy, France’s BNP Paribas and the US-based private equity house, Apax Partners are entering bids.

It is thought that the thinking behind the PKO bid is that the Polish Government, which holds a near 41% stake in that bank, wants to reduce foreign ownership levels in the country’s banking sector and sees the seizing of control of Zachodni as a major step in that direction.

PKO’s management has previously been quoted as saying that the chance to take over Bank Zachodni would be too great an opportunity to be missed.

The conclusion of the sale of AIB’s Polish operations is likely to be reached in the autumn, following detailed talks with leading parties in September.

AIB is also set to sell its 22.5% stake in US bank M&T and its British-based business, including the First Trust banking network in Northern Ireland.

At the bank’s annual general meeting, earlier this year, AIB management confirmed that investment bank Morgan Stanley had been appointed to advise on the sales processes and that “many expressions of interest”, particularly forthe Polish and US businesses, had already been received.

AIB’s share price was down by 8.6% – or 8c – yesterday at 88c.


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