Portugal Seeks Novo Banco Bidder After Talks With Buyer Fail

Portugal’s central bank will begin talks with another Novo Banco SA bidder after it failed to reach an agreement to sell the lender to its preferred investor.

Anbang Insurance Group Co. had been holding exclusive talks with the central bank, according to a person with knowledge of the sale, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. Discussions will now be held with the bidder that ranked second in the previous phase of the sale, the Bank of Portugal said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

Apollo Global Management LLC and China’s Fosun Group, backed by billionaire Guo Guangchang, had also submitted binding offers for Novo Banco, the person said. Anbang and the central bank couldn’t agree on the net value of the deal and what liabilities the Bank of Portugal would retain after the sale, the person said.

“It’s a difficult asset in a still difficult country,” said Roger Francis, a credit analyst at Mizuho International Plc in London. “I’m not overly surprised that the negotiations didn’t come to a conclusion. It’s a waiting game now.”

With the sale, the central bank is seeking to recoup part of the 4.9 billion euros ($5.5 billion) of funds invested to rescue Banco Espirito Santo SA in August last year. As part of the bailout the central bank moved the lender’s deposits and most of the assets to Novo Banco.

Fosun will begin talks with the central bank, Jornal de Negocios reported Tuesday on its website, correcting an earlier version in which it had said Apollo would begin talks. Anbang had offered about 3.5 billion euros for Novo Banco, Diario Economico has reported, without saying how it obtained the information.

Officials for the central bank declined to comment further on the bidders.

An official for Fosun, who asked not to be named in line with company policy, said this morning Fosun’s offer was still valid and the company was looking at the process with interest. The official declined to comment further after the later Negocios’ report. An official for Apollo declined to comment, while Anbang’s representatives weren’t immediately available.

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