ECONOMY

Nova Banka to be ready for sale next year

ZAGREB (Reuters) – Croatian bank Nova Banka, controlled by two overseas investment funds, will be ready for sale in 2005 but earlier talks with serious potential bidders are also possible, the bank said yesterday. Nova Banka was founded in 2002 by merging three regional banks – Istarska, Sisacka and Dalmatinska – with consolidation of the fourth, Dubrovacka Banka, due to be completed soon. It ranks among the top 10 Croatian banks with assets of 8.6 billion kuna ($1.42 billion) at the end of June. «Our plan envisages the nomination of a sell-off adviser this month, which will help us prepare a possible tender in 2005. «But if we get a serious offer before that, the shareholders may decide to start talks on sale earlier,» the bank said in a statement faxed to Reuters. Local daily Vecernji list reported yesterday that several banks had already expressed interest in buying Nova Banka, with the most serious candidates being Austrian Erste Bank, already present in Croatia, and Hungarian OTP Bank. «We have no information on any ongoing talks,» the bank’s spokeswoman Branka Kuzmanovic told Reuters. Some 90 percent of Nova Banka is controlled by Reginter, a local offspring of Charlemagne Capital fund, and SEEF Holdings Fund. The bank said its net profit had surpassed 50 million kuna in the first seven months of 2004.