The National Bank of Greece (NBG) has entered into an agreement with KBC Group to sell its remaining shares in its Bulgarian lender, United Bulgarian Bank (UBB). NBG will sell 99.1 percent of its stake for €610 million. The deal includes UBB’s fully owned subsidiary, Interlease EAD. KBC has been operating in Bulgaria through its subsidiary CIBANK since 2007, and its insurance company, DZI Insurance. The deal would create the largest bank-insurance group in Bulgaria.
The trade is in accordance with regularity plans mandated for the Greek bank by European authorities and is expected to increase NBG’s capital. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2017, but it would need approval from European regulators. “The transaction further strengthens NBG’s position in terms of capital and liquidity, allowing for the redeployment of resources to support the Greek economic recovery,” said Leonidas Fragkiadakis, Chief Executive Officer of National Bank.
UBB is the fourth largest bank in Bulgaria in terms of assets, and the merger will give KBC an 11 percent market share. Interlease is the third-largest provider of leasing services in the country with a 13 percent market share. KBC said UBB is expected to make a €183 million extraordinary dividend payment to NBG before the deal is completed. KBC will pay cash for the bank from its internal sources. The deal will bring an end to NBG’s fifteen-year involvement in Bulgaria. KBC said the deal won’t affect its capital position, as the bank will remain above the minimum capital requirements.