BNP Polish Unit Starts Share Sale to Boost Free Float, Lending

BNP Paribas SA’s Polish unit plans to raise about 300 million zloty ($92.7 million) from a public share offering to meet the financial regulator’s requirement to increase the amount of its stock trading on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

The bank is selling as many as 8.58 million shares and set a price range of 35 zloty to 45 zloty a share, according to a term sheet obtained by Bloomberg News. Proceeds will depend on the final price, which will be set on June 27, when book-building for institutions ends, it said.

Paris-based BNP Paribas and its units will buy 3 million shares and the rest will be sold to investors, allowing the bank to increase its free float, or the portion of the company that trades on the stock market, to a mandatory 15 percent.

The offering follows the 4.89 billion-zloty sale of a stake in its bigger competitor, Bank Zachodni WBK SA, by KBC Groep NV and Banco Santander SA in March. Earlier this year, the Polish government sold a 5.24 billion-zloty stake in PKO Bank Polski SA, the country’s biggest lender, and Italy’s UniCredit SpA sold a 3.73 billion-zloty holding in its Bank Pekao SA unit.

BNP Paribas intends to use about 94 percent of the proceeds to expand lending, and spend the rest to remodel branches and improve its Internet banking service, it said. The bank doesn’t rule out takeovers in Poland.

Citigroup Inc. is the global coordinator and joint bookrunner on the offering, while ING Bank NV, BRE Bank SA and Santander are co-lead managers.

The unit’s first-quarter net income jumped to 30.8 million zloty from 9.9 million zloty a year earlier, while total loans amounted to 16.6 billion zloty. Its solvency ratio, a measure of capital strength, is above 12 percent and loans amount to 110 percent of deposits, it said.

The Warsaw-based unit, which is under a restructuring program until the end of next year, won’t pay a dividend by 2015, it said.

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