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The fragmented sale of the NLB bank, proposed to the European Commission by the Slovenian government, can be interpreted in many ways. Foto: BoBo

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Why the fragmented sale of NLB?

18. April 2017 ob 10:10
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

The government slowed down the sale of NLB just before the Easter holidays and it is becoming clear that it will not announce its intention to launch a public offer of the bank’s shares before the 1st of May.

All the related activities and the publishing of the range of prices per share have been postponed for next month. The fragmented sale of the NLB bank, proposed to the European Commission by the Slovenian government, can be interpreted in many ways.

If the European Commission approves the government’s latest proposal, the NLB bank will be sold in two parts - up to 50 percent this year and the remaining 25 percent next year. Taking into account that there will be no big time delay and the fact that the European Commission has already approved similar proposals from other countries, we can expect Brussels to give a positive answer.

But why has the government decided to come up with a different plan? According to some sources, the move is supposed to protect its subsidiary banks in the Balkans… in case NLB is not sold until the end of the year, the commission will launch privatization procedures for the above mentioned banks. And those banks are extremely important for NLB, for last year alone they generated 58 million euros, out of the 110 million euros in total generated by the whole NLB Group. The other, less positive reason for the decision, is that the government is trying to slow down the sale process by dividing it into many parts. It will sell a part of the bank this year, while it is still in power, and the rest will be sold next year when a new government comes in office. The responsibility for the whole NLB privatization process will thus shift to the new incoming government.

Whatever the case, the sale procedure will not be stopped, which means that immediately after the May Day holidays the Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SDH) will issue a so-called intention to float - an initial public offering. Bids by potential investors will follow. Experts warn the government not to miss that deadline. If it does then NLB will have to be sold in the autumn, when due to time pressure the prices of the bank’s shares will tend to be lower.

Urška Jereb Brankovič, Radio Slovenija; translated by K. J.