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NKBM Selling Non-Strategic Investments

Ljubljana, 06 July (STA) - The management of Slovenia's second largest bank, NKBM, is working intensively on preparations to sell its non-strategic investments, especially in insurer Zavarovalnica Maribor and postal bank PBS, the media report on Friday.

While the bank avoided revealing any details when publishing on the website of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange on Thursday that it would be disinvesting non-key assets, Finance Minister Janez Šušteršič has confirmed earlier this week that the first steps had already been taken for selling Zavarovalnica Maribor.

According to the daily Dnevnik, NKBM must sell its 51% share in the insurer by the end of the year, as capital-adequacy criteria are even stricter for banking-insurance conglomerates, and to secure appropriate capital adequacy, since the state is not keen on providing new capital injections.

Furthermore, a European directive puts the bank in an unfavourable position, preventing the insurer from depositing its surplus assets with its parent bank NKBM and limiting its investments in the bank's bonds.

Dnevnik further writes that a number of European, especially Austrian, insurers are interested in taking over Zavarovalnica Maribor, including Grawe and Uniqa.

However, an impediment to the appetites of these investors, who are also interested in the rest of the shares, according to Dnevnik, was the announcement of reinsurer Sava Re, which owns almost 49% of Zavarovalnica Maribor, that it was also interested in the takeover.

The business daily Finance meanwhile points out that NKBM and postal services operator Pošta Slovenia could soon be reversing their respective 55% and 45% shares in postal bank PBS, but the postal services operator needs an approval of the Slovenia central bank before becoming a majority owner of the bank.

While NKBM did not wish to comment on this, Pošta Slovenije did not deny such plans and told the business daily that it was always looking for investment opportunities, stressing that it had strong technological and business connection with PBS, since the post counters were also the counters of the postal bank.

Finance also notes that Pošta Slovenije, which generated a net profit of almost 9m in 2011 and EUR 7m of gross profit in this year's first quarter, may also take part in the sale of Zavarovalnica Maribor.

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