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Pahor Says Govt Considering New Foreign Investor for NLB

Ljubljana, 11 July (STA) - PM Borut Pahor commented on possible capital increase scenarios for the state-owned NLB bank on Monday, saying the government was counting on an agreement with the second biggest owner, Belgian group KBC, or on finding a new domestic or foreign investor that will provide for the development of the country's largest bank.

Responding in parliament to a query by Borut Sajovic of the coalition LibDems, who said that given the austerity measures there should be no repeat of the recent almost fully state-funded EUR 250m capital hike, Pahor said that the State Asset Management Agency (AUKN) was currently in talks with KBC.

If these talks do not end in a favourable agreement, the agency has the mandate to start examining the possibility of finding a new domestic or foreign private partner that would secure the stability of the bank and consolidate its position in the region.

While calling this a milestone decision of the government, Pahor expressed the wish that parliament could discuss in its present makeup the status of NLB when it comes to Slovenia's national interests.

According to Pahor, the dilemma is whether national interest lies merely in majority state ownership of the bank or in Slovenia having a good bank with good banking products.

He added that it would be ideal to also have a majority state-owned institution in the financial system, but that it was at the same time better for Slovenia to have good banks in foreign ownership than struggling domestic banks.

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