Eleven suitors for Romania’s BCR

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Eleven foreign banks submitted letters of intent in the privatization of Romania’s biggest bank Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR), Romania’s privatization agency AVAS said yesterday. Romania aims to sell a majority stake in BCR to an international bank or consortium of banks by the end of this year, after an earlier privatization attempt failed in 2003 due to a lack of bidders. «The banks are: Fortis, Banco Portugues Commercial, National Bank of Greece, Banca Intesa, Deutsche Bank, Erste Bank, Dexia, KBC, BNP Paribas, ABN Amro and Texas Pacific with Citigroup,» the statement said. Analysts said the sale of BCR, estimated to fetch around 1.5 billion euros, offers international banks one of the last opportunities to expand in Central and Eastern Europe by acquiring the crown jewel of Romania’s banking system. Bidders can opt to bid for 50 percent plus one share or for a stake of 61.8 percent in BCR, which has a market share of 26 percent in the country and 315 branches nationwide. In 2003, Romania sold 25 percent of BCR for $222 million to the EBRD and the World Bank’s investment arm, the IFC. Currently, the state owns 36.8 percent, the EBRD and the IFC each have 12.5 percent plus one share, the bank’s employees own 8 percent and five Romanian investment companies own around 30 percent.

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