MARKET "GOSSIP"Are the SIFs courting Banca Carpatica?

Adina Ardeleanu (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Ziarul BURSA #English Section /

Are the SIFs courting Banca Carpatica?

Gabriel Filimon denies it 

Three of the five financial investment companies (SIFs) - SIF1 Banat Crişana, SIF2 Moldova and SIF4 Muntenia, may be interested in becoming shareholders of Banca Comercială Carpatica (BCC), market sources claim.

Gabriel Filimon, the CEO of SAI Muntenia Invest, which manages SIF Muntenia, has denied the rumor, and the CEOs of the other SIFs had yet to respond by the time the newspaper went to print.

The idea of a bank of the SIFs is not new, and over time there has been plenty of speculation on the subject, meaning that it is not out of the question for it to have returned to the forefront again as Banca Carpatica is looking for investors.

Information recently appeared in the press that four investors, interested in joining the shareholder structure of BCC and capitalizing the bank, had received access to the data room of the lender and that they are going to initiate talks on concluding the deal.

"There is interest to invest in the bank both from some local banks, as well as from some investment funds", bank sources quoted by Mediafax said at the time.

"Searching for investors for Banca Comercială Carpatica in order to have a merger is in line with the mandate received in April", according to a press release of the bank sent to the Bucharest Stock Exchange immediately after the information about the four investors was published.

In April, the shareholders of BCC gave the management of the bank the mandate to review the opportunity of merging with another bank.

According to the representatives of BCC, the merger will be intended to find a partner to allow the bank to consolidate its market position.

At the end of April, Carpatica CEO Johan Gabriels, said that he had made it his goal to find by September a merger option that would help the bank move into the top ten banks, while also keeping the name, an idea which had the backing of majority shareholder Ilie Carabulea, in spite of some initial communication problems: "It has to be said that the bank is not for sale. I think there has been a misunderstanding. I am not selling the bank, because it is not for sale. What I said is that we have ambitious growth targets and we want to secure a spot among the Top Ten banks. And we want to do it under the name of Carpatica and with the banking license that we currently have".

In spring, the SIFs have consolidated their stake in another bank, "Transilvania" (TLV), after "Bank of Cyprus", which has problems at home, made its exit.

At the time, SIF4 Muntenia and SIF2 Moldova have acquired 4.07% and 3.5% of Banca Transilvania, respectively. Thus, the three SIF "friends" - SIF1 Banat Crişana (4.5% of TLV), SIF2 Moldova (8.5%) and SIF4 Muntenia (4.2%) - have come to control 17.2% of Banca Transilvania.

Because of that, some market voices do not believe in the scenario of the SIFs acquiring "Carpatica", but are instead expecting them to increase their stakes in TLV, including by asking for a derogation from the holding cap.

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