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KBC, Santander Raise $1.5 Billion From Bank Zachodni Sale

March 22 (Bloomberg) -- KBC Groep NV of Belgium and Banco Santander SA of Spain raised 4.89 billion zloty ($1.51 billion) from the sale of a stake in Bank Zachodni WBK SA, Poland’s third-largest lender.

The banks sold 19.9 million shares, or a 21.4 percent stake, at 245 zloty apiece to financial investors, Zachodni said in a regulatory filing today. The offering took the value of this year’s share offerings in Poland to 14.4 billion zloty, a record start to the year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Zachodni shares fell 2.8 percent to 248 zloty at 12:39 p.m. in Warsaw, retreating for a fifth day.

“The discount to the market price is higher than we had expected as sentiment worsened after Cyprus,” Marcin Materna, an analyst at Bank Millennium SA in Warsaw, said by phone.

Warsaw’s benchmark WIG20 Index has slumped 4.3 percent this week, heading for the steepest drop since May, as concern mounted over a bailout for Cyprus. Santander, which completed Zachodni’s merger with KBC’s Kredyt Bank SA this year, was under pressure from Polish regulators to boost the proportion of Zachodni shares which are available to other investors.

Benchmark Index

The bank’s increased free float, which rose to 30 percent after the sale, should help Zachodni join the WIG20 Index “as early as September,” Michal Konarski and Mark MacRae, Warsaw-based analysts at Wood & Co., wrote in a note today. The stock’s weighting in the index may reach about 4.1 percent, according to estimates by PKO Bank Polski SA’s brokerage.

Santander shares gained 0.2 percent to 5.655 euros today, while KBC declined 1.1 percent to 28.69 euros. The Spanish bank sold 5.2 percent of Zachodni, cutting its stake to 70 percent, while KBC, Belgium’s biggest bank and insurer by market value, sold its entire 16.2 percent holding.

The offering came two months after sales of stakes in PKO Bank Polski SA and Bank Pekao SA, Poland’s largest lenders. The government and state-owned Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego sold a 5.24 billion-zloty stake in PKO Bank, while Italy’s UniCredit SpA sold a 3.73 billion-zloty holding in Pekao in January.

Deutsche Bank AG, Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG, KBC Securities NV, Santander Investment, Dom Maklerski Bank Zachodni WBK SA, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS AG managed Zachodni’s sale.

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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