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Krizanic Open to Santander Entry to NLB

Ljubljana, 07 January (STA) - Finance Minister Franc Krizanic was open to the possibility of Spanish banking giant Banco Santander entering Slovenia's top bank as an owner as he addressed the press after Thursday's cabinet session.

He said that Banco Santander was a strong bank and would be treated equally to Belgian financial group KBC as an owner of NLB.

Should the Spanish bank decide to buy the 30.6% stake currently held by KBC, Krizanic said that state would enter into a shareholder agreement with the bank.

This would be not be the case in the event of an acquisition by "anonymous funds".

This is the finance minister's first reaction to reports that Banco Santander is interested in acquiring KBC's share in NLB.

Touching on the planned capital injection at NLB, Krizanic said that the government had expected it to take place by the end of 2009. But since KBC did not wish to participate, the state will now have to seek approval from the European Commission to carry out the injection on its own.

"If all the procedures are launched quickly...the capital injection could be carried out by the end of April," said Krizanic. He added that the government had initially hoped to complete the injection in the first quarter.

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