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ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Upset central bank calls for Czech ČSOB EGM in May

The Slovak central bank (NBS) said on April 22 that it expects an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting of Prague-based bank ČSOB, in which it owns a 24% stake, to be called for late next month. An NBS public relations official said the EGM would probably be called at the NBS's request, possibly for May 24.

NBS officials have said they were upset over the Czech privatisation process for ČSOB, and want to have their shares sold as well, under similar conditions.

The Czech government is preparing to complete a tender in June for a stake of as much as 66% in ČSOB - the former Czechoslovak state foreign trade bank before the 1993 split of the country - culled from various Czech state institutions.

Germany's Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank, and Belgium's KBC are the three finalists in the bidding.

NBS Governor Vladimír Masár told a news conference in Bratislava on April 22 that the Slovak central bank wanted the same conditions attached to the sale of the NBS's stake, which is not included in the current tender. "The National Bank of Slovakia is dissatisfied with the approach of the Czech shareholders of ČSOB," Masár told the news conference. "We find it unacceptable for the NBS to be left out of the process."

Masár said the NBS was prepared to settle the issue in court if necessary. He said the NBS wanted to sell its stake together with the Czech shareholders on the basis of earlier agreements.

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