April 16, 2018 / 3:59 PM / 5 months ago

Sava shareholders give Serbia's AIK more time to acquire Gorenjska stake

LJUBLJANA, April 16 (Reuters) - Shareholders in Slovenian finance and tourism company Sava, the largest investor in Gorenjska Banka, gave Serbian bank AIK more time on Monday to secure the regulatory clearances it needs to proceed with a takeover of Gorenjska.

Sava had agreed to sell its 37.7 percent stake in Gorenjska Banka to AIK in December but the Serbian central bank revoked permission for the takeover in January.

The Serbian central bank said it had uncovered irregularities in AIK’s operations, adding that the acquisition could jeopardise AIK’s financial position.

Sava said on Monday it remained willing to sell the stake to AIK bank provided AIK secured required regulatory clearances by the end of April, pushing the date back from a previous mid-March deadline.

“The shareholders agree to sell Sava’s stake in Gorenjska providing that the management of Sava receives proof by April 30 that AIK Banka ... has all the necessary approvals of the National Bank of Serbia, the Bank of Slovenia and the European Central Bank,” Sava said.

AIK had offered 298 euros per share for Sava’s Gorenjska stake, which would value the whole bank at 115.6 million euros ($143 million).

AIK is the second largest shareholder in Gorenjska with 21 percent. Acquiring the Sava stake would raise AIK’s stake to over 50 percent, obliging the lender to bid for all remaining shares in Gorenjska at the same price as it would pay for the Sava stake.

AIK was not available for an immediate comment.

The Bank of Slovenia had ordered Sava to sell its stake in Gorenjska, saying indebted Sava was not financially strong enough to support Gorenjska.

Gorenjska has a market share of about 4.7 percent in Slovenia, in terms of balance sheet assets. ($1 = 0.8086 euros) (Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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