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Lazard Freres Picked as Adviser in Privatisation of NKBM Bank

Maribor, 14 January (STA) - The state has picked financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard Freres as the adviser in the planned sale of the NKBM, the country's no. 2 bank, which has been renationalised in the December bank bailout.

The state-owned SOD fund, which presently acts as the custodian of state assets, signed the contract with Lazard Freres today after receiving four bids for the job by the 2 December deadline.

SOD praised what is said was Lazard's extensive experience in the filed of financial advising. Lazard, which began in France and now has offices in 26 countries, for instance helped in the restructuring the Hungarian central bank, in the acquisition of the Bulgarian MKB Unionbank, and the recapitalisation of the BAWAG PSK group.

The move comes after the government, which has recapitalised NKBM with EUR 870m, announced end of December the sale of NKBM by the end of 2016 at the latest.

The government also plans to sell the biggest bank, NLB, although the idea is to preserve at least a 25% stake plus one share.

NKBM has indicated that it probably finished 2013 in the red because the need for additional impairments and provisions, but added that several consecutive quarters of profit before impairments and provisions and recent projections suggest it will return to profitability this year.

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