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CORPORATE BRIEFS

Foreign buyers interested in Slovak stake in ČSOB bank

Slovakia is still interested in selling a 24% stake held by the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS) in Československá Obchodná Banka (ČSOB) under the same conditions that the Czech Republic is to sell its majority stake in the bank.

Moreover, according to Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová, potential investors have decelared they are interested in the Slovak ČSOB stake, and a deal may become possible at any moment.

The interested investors are the same ones which are anxious to get their hands on the 66% stake held by the Czech Republic, Schmögnerová announced on March 17. In response to the statement by the head of ČSOB's Slovak branch, Ladislav Unčovský, that it is unlikely that the Slovak stake in the CSOB will be sold together with the share of the Czech Republic and under the same conditions, Schmögnerová said that this was only the opinion of the ČSOB management and not that of the Czech government

A Slovak cabinet resolution says that Slovakia will strive to sell the NBS's stake in the ČSOB under the same conditions which the Czech government sells its majority stake. The Czech government has declared support for such a procedure.

According to ČSOB's privatization schedule, "an in-depth inspection" of potential buyers will be concluded in March, and investors should submit binding offers by April 12. A steering committee should make a choice and start talks with the winner in May. The signing of a contract and the investors' entry into ČSOB is expected in June.

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