Italian banking giant UniCredit, which owns Poland’s second-largest lender Bank Pekao, has submitted a preliminary offer for Bank Gospodarki Żywnoĥciowej (BGŻ), UniCredit CEO Federico Ghizzoni announced. BGŻ is owned by Rabobank, a Dutch lender, which has said it is considering various strategic options for its Polish unit.
Dutch-owned BGŻ is currently the 11th-biggest lender in Poland
Courtesy of BGŻ
A UniCredit spokesman said the offer, made through UniCredit’s Polish unit, was not binding because the sale process was in a preliminary phase.
The biggest Italian lender is not the only one in the running for BGŻ. Business daily Puls Biznesu reported that BZ WBK, owned by Spain’s Santander, as well as France’s BNP Paribas, are also in the running, with the latter having put in the best offer and currently working through the due-diligence phase.
BGŻ is the 11th-largest bank in Poland and is 98 percent owned by Rabobank. Analysts estimate the bank’s value at $1 billion.
So far, no formal decisions have been made on the sale of BGŻ. It is expected to be announced at the end of October or beginning of November.
The offer is the latest step in UniCredit’s long-term strategy of boosting its presence in its core European markets, of which Poland is a part. Meanwhile, the Italian lender is withdrawing from other markets in which it has a limited presence. Earlier this year it sold its Kazakh operations and is currently mulling pulling out of Ukraine.
“We are sounding out the market, it is not easy to leave countries like these. It took us two years to sell in Kazakhstan,” Mr Ghizzoni said.
He also said the bank was also looking at growth opportunities in China, where it may open more branches with the aim of helping its corporate clients who want to expand there and also attracting Chinese investments into Europe.
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