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Pekao Jumps on Plan to Buy Rabobank’s Unit: Warsaw Mover

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Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Bank Pekao SA, Poland’s second-largest lender, rose to the highest level in almost three years after UniCredit SpA, its majority owner, announced a plan to buy Rabobank Groep’s Polish unit.

Pekao rose 2.5 percent to 184.5 zloty at close in Warsaw, highest since December 2010. UniCredit, which owns 50.1 percent of Pekao, offered to buy Bank Gospodarki Zywnosciowej SA to expand in the European Union’s biggest eastern market, Chief Executive Officer Federico Ghizzoni said yesterday. BGZ shares surged 11 percent to 71.75 zloty, climbing to the highest since November and valuing the bank at 3.67 billion zloty ($1.19 billion).

“Pekao has a lot of excess capital and it would be hard to utilize it by a dividend payout or lending,” Michal Konarski, an analyst at BRE Bank SA in Warsaw, said by phone today. “A good acquisition is a good way to effectively use this money and Pekao may achieve significant cost savings with a purchase of BGZ.”

Poland has been among Europe’s most active markets for deals involving banks and insurers since 2010. State-controlled PKO Bank Polski SA, Poland’s biggest lender, in June agreed to buy Nordea Bank AB’s Polish assets. Spain’s Banco Santander SA acquired Bank Zachodni WBK SA and Kredyt Bank SA and created the country’s third-largest lender this year.

Considering Options

Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International AG bought Polbank SA from EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA of Greece last year, while Germany’s Talanx AG purchased insurer Warta SA from Belgium’s KBC Groep NV in 2010.

Rabobank is considering various options for its Warsaw-based unit, spokeswoman Milou Verhaegh said by phone today. The Dutch bank raised its stake in BGZ from 60 percent last year, buying 16.9 million shares at 72.5 zloty each, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

BGZ, whose shares have gained 31 percent this year, currently trades at its book value, compared with 2.2 times for Pekao and the domestic industry’s average of 1.7 times, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

To contact the reporters on this story: Marta Waldoch in Warsaw at mwaldoch@bloomberg.net; Piotr Bujnicki in Warsaw at pbujnicki@bloomberg.net

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

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