Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Romania CEC bank sale may involve domestic capital-PM

BUCHAREST, March 18 (Reuters) - Romania has yet to draft a selloff strategy for its oldest bank CEC, but the envisaged privatisation may involve a domestic buyer, Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu said on Tuesday.

The state has put CEC sell-off plans on hold until 2009 after it rejected the sole bid it received, from Greek National Bank (NBGr.AT: Quote, Profile, Research), for a 69.9 percent stake in 2006, saying the offer was too low.

Officials have said the delay would give CEC enough time to boost its business and market share and enhance its chances of getting a better sale price.

"If its performance will increase, then it will become attractive for privatisation. We will see how this privatisation will be done. So far, nobody had the courage in Romania to do a privatisation with Romanian capital," Tariceanu told reporters.

"There have constantly been attempts to privatise it with foreign strategic partners which, of course, don't always have interests that match national interests."

CEC, the "people's bank" under communism, has a vast network of branches in remote parts of the country. It said it plans to raise its market share by assets to up to 6 percent by 2011.

It plans to primarily target individuals and small firms in rural areas and towns of under 50,000 people. (Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by David Holmes)

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