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State assets holding puts Abanka up for sale (adds)

Ljubljana, 11 October (STA) - Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) published on Thursday an invitation to investors to express their interest in Abanka, Slovenia's third largest bank. The entire 100% stake is up for sale.

Investors have until 5 PM on Friday, 26 October, to express their interest in the Ljubljana-based state-owned bank.

Once SSH establishes what interest there is to buy the bank, qualified investors will be invited to submit non-binding bids, according to a posting on SSH's website.

SSH had named French bank BNP Paribas the sole financial advisor carrying out the procedure of selecting the best bidder.

The holding reserves the right to change or stop the procedure any time, and says it intends to maximise the proceeds from the sale.

Since a qualifying stake is being sold, the buyer will have to get clearance from the European Central Bank.

The state has been Abanka's sole owner since a massive bank bailout in December 2013 which also saw the state "rescuing" NLB, NKBM and Banka Celje.

In exchange for the European Commission's approval of the state aid, the government had to commit to sell Abanka by the middle of 2019.

The bank reported EUR 40.4m in net profit in the first half of the year, up 24.5% from the same period last year.

Its total assets amounted to EUR 3.7bn at the end of June, up 1.4% from the end of 2017, putting its market share at 9.6%.

This year it will pay EUR 42.6m in dividends into the state budget.

The bank, led by Jože Lenič, was set up in 1955 as a subsidiary of the Yugoslav Bank for Foreign Trade as the first bank for international trade in Slovenia.

It transformed into Abanka in late 1989, merged with Banka Vipa in 2002 and then as part of the bailout with Banka Celje in October 2015.

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