September 11, 2013 / 5:13 PM / 4 years ago

Polish PKO BP CEO says bank may partner with PZU in insurance

WARSAW, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Poland's biggest bank PKO BP is looking for a partner to buy 50 percent of its insurance business and could be interested in cooperating with PZU, the region's biggest insurer.

"We are in the process of choosing our partner. We feel closest to PZU," PKO's chief executive Zbigniew Jagiello told a parliamentary committee.

Poland's insurance sector is dominated by the state-controlled PZU, eastern Europe's No.1 insurer.

The search for an insurance partner follows PKO's first ever takeover deal in June when the bank purchased Poland's tenth-largest lender Nordea Bank Polska and its insurance business from Sweden's Nordea for 2.83 billion zlotys ($852 million).

PKO has long been touted as a potential consolidating force in Poland's financial services sector, where foreign players dominate and margins are under pressure because of record low interest rates.

Analysts view PKO's insurance joint-venture plans as similar to a partnership between Banco Santander's Polish unit BZ WBK and British insurer Aviva, which included BZ WBK getting a 10-percent stake, worth 500-600 million zloty, in Aviva's local business. (Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; writing by Karolina Slowikowska; editing by James Jukwey)

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