Ljubljana, 19 June (STA) - Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) has sold 10% of NLB bank to institutional investors for EUR 109.5 million as it wrapped up the privatisation procedure, leaving the state owning a controlling stake of 25% plus one share.
SSH made the announcement Wednesday after selling shares and global depositary receipts equivalent to almost two million shares at a price of EUR 54.75 per Share and EUR 10.95 per GDR.
The price is well below market price: NLB closed at EUR 58.2 on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange yesterday, while GDRs, which are traded in London, closed at EUR 11.33.
The transaction will be settled on 21 June, which means that the state will also get the dividends incumbent on the shares, for total proceeds from the 10% stake of EUR 123.8 million.
SSH said the buyers were high-quality institutional investors who will be "ensuring [the bank's] competitiveness and its further development in the future".
Igor Kržan, chairman of SSH, said he was satisfied that "one of the largest and the most demanding privatisation process in Slovenia" had been brought to a successful close.
Since restrictions that NLB has had to operate under due to state aid will now no longer apply, the bank will "again be able to operate in the domestic market and in the markets of the SE Europe with all of its capacities and start to compete with its competitors on more equal footing".
"NLB remains an independent Slovenian financial institution which will continue to support the development of the Slovenian economy and will keep representing an important proportion of the portfolio of state's capital assets managed by SSH," he said.
The banks said it would now be able to compete at home and abroad on a level playing field. It will be allowed to have a leasing business again, and invest without limitations in digitalisation and the development of new products.
"As of New Year's when the ban on mergers and acquisitions will be lifted as well, NLB, a regional specialist, will be able to more actively seek opportunities to strengthen its position as a systemic player on our markets," chairman Blaž Brodnjak was quoted as saying.
The transaction completes a long privatisation process which started in earnest in 2018 after years of fits and starts.
Slovenia nationalised the bank after spending EUR 1.55 billion bailing it out at the end of 2015. Since then the state has earned roughly EUR 1.2 billion in dividends and proceeds from the sale of the bank's equity.
The privatisation was a condition of the European Commission for the approval of state aid and the Commission welcomed today "the fact that Slovenia has completed the privatisation of NLB and implemented its commitment to divest 75%-1 of NLB shares."