Poland probes AIB sale of Polish asset to Spain's Santander

13th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Poland's Financial Supervision Authority (PFSA) is probing a Friday deal by Irish bank AIB to sell its Polish banking assets to Spain's Santander lender, a PFSA spokesperson said Monday.

"Certain doubts have come up and naturally we will check whether during the tender process any confidential information was leaked," PFSA spokesman Lukasz Dajnowicz told AFP.

"Various information is circulating on the markets. It must be checked. The PFSA has launched the investigation of its own accord," he added.

Ireland's troubled AIB bank announced Friday it was selling its 70 percent stake in Polish asset, Bank Zachodni WBK (BZ WBK), for 2.9 billion euros and 150 million euros for AIB's 50 percent stake in BZ WBK AIB Asset Management for a total of some 3.1 billion euros (3.97 billion dollars) in cash.

Santander won the tender against fellow European competitors, BNP Paribas of France and Poland's PKO BP.

According to Poland's Rzeczpospolita daily, AIB is alleged to have provided confidential information about BZ WBK's financial forecasts to Santander, a practice banned under competition regulations.

At the same time, during negotiations Santander was also advised by BZ WBK's official auditor, which has also raised suspicion.

Rzeczpospolita also reported the deal could have been linked to the eventual sale of other AIB foreign assets to Santander.

The deal is subject to the approval of several authorities, including the Poland's PFSA regulator and a green light from AIB shareholders.

The move to purchase AIB's 70 percent share in BZ WBK, Poland's fifth largest bank, is part of Santander's plan to buy up all remaining BZ WBK shares, traded on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, from minority stockholders.

Santander, Spain's largest bank, has been present in Poland since 2004 through its Santander Consumer division and it acquired AIG's consumer finance business last May.

The troubled Allied Irish Banks (AIB) is selling off the asset as part of a restructuring plan to cover record losses from bad property loans.

© 2010 AFP

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