BNP placed highest bid for Rabobank's Polish unit - report

Reuters

WARSAW (Reuters) - France's BNP Paribas (PAR:BNP) placed the highest bid for Bank BGZ (WSE:BGZ), the Polish subsidiary of Dutch lender Rabobank (RABO.UL), with the sale possibly being concluded this year, daily Puls Biznesu quoted unnamed sources saying on Wednesday.

According to the daily, BNP had bid 1 billion euros (872 million pounds) for Rabobank's 98 percent stake in Poland's No.11 bank.

The biggest Dutch retail bank said in June it was reviewing its options for the mostly rural-based BGZ, but had not officially put the lender up for sale.

Sources have told Reuters that BNP Paribas and Spain's Banco Santander (MCE:SAN) were circling BGZ, while UniCredit's (MIL:UCG) said it had made a preliminary offer via its Polish unit Pekao (PEO.WA).

Market sources said Polish mid-sized lender Alior (ALRR.WA) was also interested, backed by the region's top insurer PZU (WSE:PZU).

"Pekao bid much less (than BNP), the same with Santander," Puls Biznesu quoted its anonymous banking source. "The signing of the deal may happen this year," another source told the daily.

While some troubled foreign lenders have unloaded Polish holdings to boost their capital positions, others are keen to strengthen their place in the biggest eastern European economy.

Poland's bank sector has for years has been under strict supervision and has been relatively healthy in comparison with those of many other European nations.

(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski; Editing by David Holmes)

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