Hypo Alpe Agrees to Sell Unit Amid Calls for Faster Pace

Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International AG, the bailed-out Austrian lender under pressure from European regulators to sell assets, made its first disposal of a banking unit since it was nationalized four years ago.

Hypo Alpe agreed to sell Hypo Alpe Adria Bank AG, the unit which operates in its southern Austrian home province Carinthia, to Anadi Financial Holdings Pte. Ltd. for 65.5 million euros ($85 million), the Klagenfurt, Austria-based lender said in a statement today. The sale can be closed once approved by regulators, it said.

European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has called on the lender to step up the speed of divestments, saying that he may demand Hypo Alpe to repay some of the 2.2 billion euros in aid unless a new restructuring plan is found.

“The signing is a clear sign that you can succeed with privatizing banks if expectations and time frames are set realistically,” Hypo Alpe Chief Executive Officer Gottwald Kranebitter said in the statement. Anadi made “clearly” the best offer for the unit, Kranebitter said.

The Austrian unit posted net income of 47.3 million euros in 2012, up from 5.9 million euros a year earlier. That included a 40 million-euro one-time gain. It has total assets of 4.1 billion euros and branches mostly in southern Austria.

‘Financial Expertise’

Hypo Alpe’s biggest units are a network of banks in ex-Yugoslavia with assets of 10 billion euros, and a wind-down unit for 12 billion euros of non-performing and hard-to-sell assets. It also owns an Italian lender.

Anadi is owned by Sanjeev Kanoria, the brother of Hemant Kanoria, chairman of Kolkata-based Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd (SREI), Hypo Alpe said. Srei will provide “financial expertise” to the business, Sanjeev Kanoria said in the statement.

Wiener Privatbank SE (WPB), the Austrian wealth manager being acquired by Klaus Umek, told Hypo Alpe earlier this month that it was also interested in buying the Austrian business. Prague-based Austrian investor Werner Ebm was also bidding, according to a report published in Die Presse.

The sale was managed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and TJP Advisory & Management Services, Hypo Alpe said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Boris Groendahl in Vienna at bgroendahl@bloomberg.net

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

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