ECONOMY

Piraeus Bank out of the running for Bulgaria’s state-owned DSK

SOFIA – Bulgaria’s sole remaining state bank, DSK, attracted two out of an expected three final bids yesterday as an uncertain global economic outlook scared off some investors. Analysts said the two offers, from Hungary’s OTP Bank and Austria’s Erste Bank, were still good news for the European Union aspirant country – given its headaches with other landmark privatizations. Finance Minister Milen Velchev told reporters after the offers were opened in public that Greece’s Piraeus Bank, which placed a non-binding bid for Bulgaria’s second-biggest bank in January, had decided to pull out. «Piraeus cited the current geopolitical situation and its negative impact on global markets as a motive for its decision. It has nothing to do with the state of DSK,» said Velchev. But he said the government was pleased with the two offers and would do its best to strike a deal as soon as possible. «We are very happy that these two highly qualified banks that are leaders in their markets have appreciated DSK Bank.» The government offered at least 80 percent of DSK, formerly called State Savings Bank, last December as part of its efforts to press ahead with structural reforms and raise cash in one of the poorest EU candidates. The Bank Consolidation Company (BCC), the government body that handles state bank sell-offs, said it would name a preferred buyer by the end of this month at the latest. Velchev and BCC officials declined to give details of the two offers.