PZU Seeks Stake in Alior Bank as Insurer Diversifies Investments

PZU SA (PZU), Poland’s largest insurer, is in talks with private equity funds to jointly bid for Alior Bank SA, the Warsaw-based lender owned by French investor Romain Zaleski, as part of its plan to diversify investments.

The state-controlled company, which holds most of its 54.3 billion zloty ($16.5 billion) in assets as Polish government bonds, is seeking to invest in corporate debt, real estate, private-equity funds and provide financing for takeover projects to increase revenues, it said in April.

“We’re in talks with funds” on buying a stake in Alior and “if we decide to invest it will be a minority holding,” Chief Executive Officer Andrzej Klesyk said in an interview in Krynica, southern Poland, today. “Alior is expanding faster than the market and this is a profitable bank.”

The sale of Alior is set to be the second-biggest takeover transaction in central and eastern Europe announced this year after Bank Zachodni WBK SA’s purchase of Poland’s Kredyt Bank SA, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In March the bank’s total value was 1 billion euros ($1.26 billion), according to its Chief Financial Officer Witold Skrok.

PZU, which in March announced plans to spend as much as 7 billion zloty on acquisitions, plans to keep the Alior stake for at least five years, Klesyk said. Klesyk wouldn’t say what stake the Warsaw-based insurer is seeking to buy or name the funds it is holding talks with.

Interested Funds

KKR & Co., Blackstone Group LP (BX), Apax Partners LLP, CVC Capital Partners Ltd. are among funds interested in Alior, Parkiet reported today, without saying where it got the information.

Alior, founded in 2008, is controlled by Zaleski through Italy’s Carlo Tassara SpA. Its net income more than tripled to 133.2 million zloty ($40 million) from 37.1 million zloty. Net interest income rose 47 percent to 323.2 million zloty and fee income increased 62 percent to 217.1 million zloty. It has 1.3 million clients, according to its website.

Separately, PZU is also considering buying Lux Med Sp. z o.o., a Warsaw-based chain of health clinics, from Mid Europa Partners private equity fund, Klesyk said. The insurer may bid alone for a majority stake in the company “if this is economically justified” or buy a minority stake with a partner if it decided it’s not a “strategic” asset.

PZU shares rose for a second day, climbing 1.3 percent to 3493 zloty at 1:58 p.m. in Warsaw and valuing the company at 30.1 billion zloty.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marta Waldoch in Warsaw at mwaldoch@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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