May 17, 2019 / 5:50 PM / 2 months ago

Slovenia's largest bank NLB upgraded to BBB- by S&P

LJUBLJANA, May 17 (Reuters) - Slovenia’s largest bank Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) was upgraded to BBB- from BB+ with a stable outlook by Standard&Poor’s (S&P), the rating agency said on Friday.

Slovenia sold 65% of formerly fully state-owned NLB through an initial public offering (IPO) in November and the government plans to sell another 10% of the bank by the end of this year. It intends to keep 25% of NLB in state hands to have a say in key business decisions.

“We believe industry risks in Slovenia’s banking system have decreased because of the state’s reduced ownership of banks, and stronger banking supervision,” S&P said in a report.

“NLB’s financial profile remains sound. Key performance indicators in 2018 were largely in line with our expectations, while asset quality metrics improved faster than we expected,” it added.

NLB operates banks in Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo.

“This upgrade is another milestone in our strategic effort to position NLB as the main regional bank in our countries of operation,” Archibald Kremser, a member of NLB’s management board said in a statement.

Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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