MIG readies 5.19-bln-euro rights issue

Marfin Investment Group (MIG) yesterday laid out its proposal for a -5.19 billion, 14-for-1 rights issue to fund portfolio investments in Southeast Europe. The group, formerly known as Marfin Financial Group, said the new shares would be offered at 6.70 euros each. Its largest shareholder, Marfin Popular Bank (MPB) with a 97 percent stake, will not exercise its rights. «The myriad opportunities available in a number of the key Southeastern European emerging markets are perfectly suited to benefit from our team’s expertise and our financial structure,» MIG Chief Executive Dennis Malamatinas, formerly CEO of Burger King, said in a statement. MIG said its «target countries» for investment opportunities included Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Estonia, Ukraine and Russia. MIG plans to privately place any shares unsubscribed by Marfin Popular and any other shareholders with Greek and institutional investors. If all of the eligible unsubscribed shares are placed in the global offering, Marfin Popular bank’s stake will fall to about 6.5 percent. Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch are the joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners, along with Citigroup. The new shares will be listed on the Athens Exchange with trading expected to start in mid-July. After completion of the rights offering, investors will be asked to approve a 10-percent share buyback scheme, MIG said. Marfin Popular Bank (MPB) expects group profit to more than double by 2009, as it expands its network in Greece and Southeastern Europe, Cyprus’s second-largest lender said separately. MPB sees net profit rising by about 40 percent annually during 2007-9, according to a revised business plan. Profit is seen as growing to -420 million this year, rising further to -526 million in 2008 and to -669 million in 2009. The bank aims to open 25 new branches a year in Greece, targeting 251 outlets by the end of 2010. It also plans 48 outlets in Romania, up from eight currently, and 80 in Serbia. (Reuters)