State to sell MKB by early 2016

The state of Hungary wants to sell MKB Bank, which it acquired from BayernLB last year, by early 2016, chairman-CEO Adam Balog told MTI.

The sale will not be a conventional privatisation, as the transaction is bound by regulations in the bailout law, Balog said. The National Bank of Hungary, which exercises ownership rights in MKB, will assist MKB by all means necessary to achieve the target date, he added.

Balog said the clean-up of MKB’s portfolio was proceeding. A number of big assets have already been sold to banks that earlier partnered with MKB on syndicated loans and some have been sold on money markets, he said. Assets in the portfolio that cannot be sold will be taken over, in the autumn, by an asset manager established by the bailout fund, he added.

Balog noted that the asset manager is an entirely separate entity from the Hungarian Reorganisation and Receivables Management Company (MARK), established by the central bank last year to buy bad commercial real estate loans and properties from banks.

The clean-up process is being “closely monitored” by a number of European Union institutions, especially with a view to sale prices, Balog said. MKB has consulted with EU officials on a regular basis in the framework of the bank’s reorganisation plan, he added.

Asked to comment on the chance of a merger of MKB and Budapest Bank, which the state also recently acquired, Balog said the possibility presented a big opportunity, but would be a long process.

MKB must focus on getting as much as it can from Hungary’s economic growth, he said. This could mean entering new markets, he added, mentioning new central bank rules that will require lenders to back mortgages with more long-term assets from the autumn of next year.

MKB could enter the mortgage market with partners or on its own, Balog said.

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