Santander Said to Be Close to Purchasing Poland’s Kredyt Bank

Banco Santander SA (SAN) is close to buying Kredyt Bank, the Polish unit of Belgian lender KBC Groep NV (KBC), for 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), said a person with direct knowledge of the transaction.

Bank Zachodni SA, Madrid-based Santander’s Poland subsidiary, will pay for the transaction in cash and stock, the person said, asking not to be named because the talks are private. The purchase may be announced as soon as today.

KBC received 7 billion euros in Belgian rescue funds and is selling 80 percent of Kredyt Bank to meet its pledge to repay the government. Poland is among markets in Eastern Europe where bank assets are up for sale as some Western European owners exit the region to repair balance-sheet damage caused by the debt crisis or to qualify for state aid.

An investor seeking to buy a stake of more than 66 percent in a Polish publicly traded company has to bid for all shares at a price no lower than the average for the previous six months, according to the country’s securities regulations.

Zachodni is considering selling Eurobonds this year to finance its expansion, the bank’s head of financial accounting, Wojciech Skalski, said on Feb. 13.

Santander, the biggest bank in the euro region by market value, bought Zachodni in 2010 from Allied Irish Banks Plc for 2.94 billion euros.

Santander has also sold assets to plug a 5.22 billion-euro capital shortfall identified by European banking regulators. The bank completed the sale of its Brazilian insurance operations to Zurich Financial Services AG for $1.7 billion in October and sold a $958 million stake in Banco Santander Chile, the South American country’s biggest bank by assets, in December.

Santander also disposed of a 95 percent stake in its Colombian unit to CorpBanca, to Chile’s sixth-largest lender by assets, for about $1.16 billion, and sold a U.S. consumer-loan business to a group led by private-equity firm KKR & Co.

To contact the reporter on this story: Serena Saitto in New York at ssaitto@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jennifer Sondag at jsondag@bloomberg.net.

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