UniCredit Sells 10% of Poland’s Bank Pekao to Boost Capital

  • 26.2 million shares sold for $830 million, Italian firm says
  • Sale is second since Mustier was appointed UniCredit CEO

UniCredit SpA, Italy’s biggest bank, said it sold 10 percent of Bank Pekao SA as the lender’s new chief executive officer, Jean Pierre Mustier, seeks to bolster capital levels.

The Italian firm sold 26.2 million shares in Poland’s second-biggest lender for 3.3 billion zloty ($830 million), according to a statement issued late Tuesday. UniCredit holds 40.1 percent of the bank after the sale. It said the sale was made to “institutional investors” it didn’t name.

Mustier, a 28-year veteran of the European securities industry who once ran UniCredit’s investment bank, has moved quickly to address capital concerns since being appointed to replace Federico Ghizzoni last month. The Bank Pekao share sale follows Monday’s disposal of a 328 million-euro ($364 million) stake in UniCredit’s online lender FinecoBank SpA.

The strategy review Mustier plans to unveil in November will be wide ranging, according to a statement Monday. “Any incremental value-creating opportunities, potentially also via disposals, will be evaluated” as UniCredit applies “disciplined capital management” to all of its assets, the lender said.

Shares Surged

UniCredit’s shares surged 13 percent in Milan on Tuesday, its biggest gain since February, giving the company a market value of about 13 billion euros. That still leaves it with the lowest valuation among major European lenders, trading at about one-quarter of its book value.

UniCredit’s disposal of the Bank Pekao stake comes amid a drive by the Polish government to wrest back more control over the domestic financial industry from foreign firms, which control about 60 percent of the country’s banking assets. Treasury Minister Dawid Jackiewicz said last month that state-controlled insurer PZU SA and PKO Bank Polski SA, the country’s biggest lender, have the “capacity” for bigger takeovers. The ministry’s spokeswoman didn’t answer calls to her office outside of regular working hours on Tuesday.

The stake sale was oversubscribed, according to a person with knowledge of the deal, who asked not to be identified before the closing of the sale was announced. Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, UBS Group AG and UniCredit, in cooperation with Kepler Cheuvreux SA, managed the sale, according to terms of the deal.

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