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BANK NEWS

SLSP sells IRB stake to OTP

Slovakia's biggest bank, Slovenská sporiteľna, announced the sale of its 23 per cent stake in Investičná a rozvojová banka (IRB) to Hungarian bank OTP. This brings OTP's share in IRB to 92.6 per cent, after the acquisition of a 69.6 per cent stake from the Slovak government in December 2001.

Although the contract has been signed, the deal awaits the approval of the anti-monopoly office, said Peter Papanek, spokesman at the Financial Ministry. "If the Antitrust Office okays IRB's takeover by OTP Bank soon, the whole IRB privatisation could be completed in the first half of April," said Papanek.

The contract signed between OTB and the government obliges OTP to own more than 50 per cent in the bank for at least four years and to increase the bank's capital by at least Sk1 billion.

OTP should pay Sk700 million for the whole 92.55 per cent stake, and has expressed interest in acquiring the remaining shares.

IRB saw profits of Sk12.2 million in 2001, though balances decreased by 12.8 per cent to Sk23.9 billion. The decline stems from the transfer of 6.4 billion in non-performing loans to a government factoring agency in exchange for restructuring bonds.

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