PKO Plans Takeovers to Protect Its Top Position in Poland

PKO Bank Polski SA (PKO), Poland’s largest lender, is seeking takeover targets at home and in central Europe to fight off growing competition from foreign-owned lenders.

The state-controlled bank is interested in buying “small and medium-sized” lenders in Poland as part of its expansion plans through 2015, PKO said in a statement released before a news conference in Warsaw today. The bank plans “a strategic alliance” in bancassurance and electronic payments business.

PKO, which this year offered to raise its stake in Bank Pocztowy SA, is looking for acquisitions to speed up growth as Banco Santander SA (SAN) and Polish billionaire Leszek Czarnecki’s Getin Noble Bank SA (GNB) step up expansion. UniCredit SpA (UCG)’s Bank Pekao SA (PEO), Poland’s second-largest lender, also seeks to play a “significant” role in the consolidation of the banking market, Chief Executive Officer Luigi Lovaglio said March 15.

PKO shares fell 0.1 percent to 34.61 zloty at 9:21 a.m. in Warsaw, extending this year’s decline to 6.2 percent and valuing the bank at 43.3 billion zloty ($13.3 billion).

Banks in Poland boosted their combined profit 4.4 percent to a record 16.2 billion zloty in 2012 as lending continued to grow even as the economy slowed, according to data on the Polish financial regulator’s website. PKO’s net income fell 1.6 percent to 3.75 billion zloty last year.

The Polish government is PKO’s biggest shareholder, with a 31 percent stake.

To contact the reporter on this story: Piotr Bujnicki in Warsaw at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Wojciech Moskwa at

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