EBRD becomes largest institutional investor in Slovenia’s NLB

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has acquired a 6.25 per cent stake in Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB), Slovenia’s largest bank.

The acquisition was made in the first phase of NLB’s privatisation during which the government of Slovenia sold 59.1 per cent of the bank in a public offering of shares. Shares in NLB generated a trading volume of 2.9 million euros on their debut on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange on November 14, contributing more than half of the exchange’s total daily turnover. The bank’s market capitalisation now tops one billion euros.

With the investment, the EBRD has become the second largest institutional investor in NLB. The EBRD was previously a shareholder in NLB between 2002 and 2008.

Lucyna Stańczak-Wuczyńska, EBRD director, financial institutions, EU banks, said: “This is a major and very welcome moment in the development of NLB and the Slovenian banking sector. NLB’s first step to return to private ownership and a successful public offering of shares demonstrate the strong restructuring and recovery of the bank. Equally important, it will strengthen further operational improvements and prudent growth which will benefit the bank’s commercial and retail customers.”

The offering of shares in NLB comes in response to Slovenia’s commitment to restructure NLB as part of an agreement made with the European Commission in 2013, when a tranche of state aid totaling 1.55 billion euros was approved. The European Commission approved the sale of the bank in August. While the Slovenian state is to keep a stake of 25 per cent plus one share, it committed to sell at least 50 per cent plus one share this year, and any outstanding share of up to 75 per cent minus one share by the end of 2019.

NLB is the largest Slovenian bank holding approximately 23 per cent of total banking assets in Slovenia. NLB provides universal banking services and has a strong presence through its core subsidiaries in five south-east European countries. NLB has 349 branches, approximately 6,000 employees and 1.8 million active customers.