Three pull out of AIB’s Polish sale

THREE of the bigger international names linked with a potential bid for AIB’s €2 billion stake in its Polish bank have withdrawn their interest, reports suggest.

In addition, Poland’s financial regulator has said it would oppose the purchase of Bank Zachodni WBK (BZWBK) by any foreign bank that has received government aid, putting in question a potential bid by France’s BNP Paribas.

Reports from Poland suggest that HSBC and Italian banking groups, Unicredito and Intesa Sanpaolo have effectively pulled out of the race to buy out AIB’s Polish interests. Those banks were thought to be on a shortlist of seven companies set to bid — along with BNP Paribas, US-headquartered private equity house, Apax Partners, and Poland’s largest two lenders, PKO Bank Polski and Bank Pekao.

Although the reported development seems to have nearly halved the overall interest in the asset — a key elements of AIB’s plan to meet its end-of-year funding requirement of €7.4bn — analysts suggest domestic interest is still alive in Poland. However, it is questionable if a Polish bidder might pay the €2bn AIB is looking to raise from the sale.

“These banks were included in a list of seven linked with a potential bid and may have decided against going head to head with PKO, which appears to be the Polish Government’s preferred bidder. While the press reports are yet to be confirmed, if true, it is a worrying development in terms of achieving a full price for BZWBK,” commented Ken Darmody of Goodbody Stockbrokers.

AIB has declined to comment on any aspect of potential progress on its overseas disposals which also cover the sales of its British operations (including the First Trust network in the North) and the 22.5% stake it owns in US bank, M&T.

However, the bank claims there is nothing new to the Taoiseach’s comments on Bloomberg TV on Monday, saying that the Government will provide additional funds to AIB if necessary.

Mr Cowen said if AIB needs help meeting its capital requirements, the Government will provide that.


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