HSBC, UniCredit Said to Pull Out of Bidding for AIB's Polish Unit Zachodni

UniCredit SpA and HSBC Holdings Plc withdrew from the bidding for Bank Zachodni WBK SA, the Polish lender that Allied Irish Banks Plc aims to sell this year, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said.

PKO Bank Polski SA, Poland’s largest lender, is in talks to buy the 70 percent stake in Zachodni, valued at 9.77 billion zloty ($3 billion) in Warsaw trading today, the person said, declining to be identified because the details aren’t public.

Arkadiusz Mierzwa, a spokesman for UniCredit Polish unit Bank Pekao SA; Brendan McNamara, a spokesman for HSBC; and Catherine Burke, a spokeswoman for AIB, all declined to comment.

AIB is selling its entire stake in Poland’s third-biggest bank by market value, to help meet capital requirements set by Irish banking regulators. Zachodni could give a foreign bank a foothold in Poland, the only European Union economy to avoid recession last year.

HSBC and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA of Italy were among the banks that placed initial bids last month, two people familiar with the transaction said July 2.

Dublin-based AIB asked bidders to improve their offers before it closes a shortlist and allows for due diligence scrutiny, Rzeczpospolita newspaper reported today, citing a person close to the transaction.

On June 22, Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad said the government would support PKO’s bid for Zachodni. Three days later, PKO’s shareholders postponed their vote on a 2009 dividend until its chances to buy Zachodni become clear. PKO’s Chief Executive Officer Zbigniew Jagiello declined to comment last week on whether the bank actually placed the bid.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maciej Martewicz in Warsaw at mmartewicz@bloomberg.net

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