NBS rebuffs VSŽ's bid for IRB

The National Bank Slovakia's (NBS) Bank Council on October 2 rejected VSŽ Košice's request to acquire more than 20 percent of the shares in the Slovak Investična a Rozvojova Banka (Investment & Development Bank - IRB). The NBS reasoned that if VSŽ acquired more than its current 14.63 percent holding in IRB, it would gain control over the bank. According to NBS officials, IRB is among the strategically important banks having their loan portfolios restructured with help from the state. VSŽ's management has not submitted its own plan of participating in this process.

Ján Smerek, the chairman of VSŽ's Board of Directors, said that the east Slovak steel conglomerate wants to increase its ownership in IRB to 40 percent. "Now is the time for pioneers, and there aren't many companies able to do that," Smerek explained. Before the NBS's opinion, Smerek said that its decision would clear up the situation. Now that the NBS has aired its judgement, Smerek said VSŽ has other options to reach its goal.

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