September 10, 2018 / 5:16 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-EBRD could buy stakes in Slovenian banks NLB and Abanka

(Updates with quote, details)

BLED, Slovenia, Sept 10 (Reuters) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) could buy stakes in Slovenian banks Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) and Abanka, which are due to be privatised this year and the next, an EBRD official said on Monday.

“(Our participation) depends obviously on the conditions. We will look into them,” EBRD vice president Pierre Heilbronn told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a political and business forum in the Alpine resort of Bled.

He did not say what percentage stake would interest the EBRD, but he urged Slovenia to continue privatisation also in other sectors, saying privatisation represented “a huge opportunity for Slovenia’s economy to improve its performance and efficiency”.

Slovenia plans to sell 75 percent of NLB and the whole of Abanka in exchange for the European Commission’s approval of state aid to those banks in 2013, when the country narrowly avoided an international bailout for its banks which were burdened with large amount of bad loans.

The government plans to sell at least 50 percent of its largest bank NLB later this year and all of Abanka in 2019.

Slovenia, which declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, was reluctant to sell its largest companies and banks in past decades, so the government still controls about 50 percent of the economy and about 40 percent of the banking sector.

Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Angus MacSwan, William Maclean

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