Only three bids were submitted on July 18 for the takeover of the National Savings Bank (CEC)Only three bids were submitted on July 18 for the takeover of the National Savings Bank (CEC). After Greek EFG Eurobank withdrew from the race, commitment offers were made by Raiffeisen Zentralbank in a consortium with Raiffeisen International Holding, National Bank of Greece and OTP Bank.
This is the last stage of the CEC privatization process through the sale of a 69.9 per cent stake.
Before bids were submitted, Romanian PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu underlined that the value of CEC is less than the value of BCR, which was sold to Austrian Erste Bank for a record amount.
"We must all admit that there are big differences between BCR and CEC, and it is not because I say so but because financial analyses say it. CEC means a great deal to Romanians in terms of image, but it remains to be seen if this will be as important for the foreign investors that do not rely on image but on concrete results," Tariceanu said.
He added that the authorities will consider not only the price offered, but also the bidders ability to transform the institution into a competitive bank, with a strong branch network especially in rural areas.
The two best bids will qualify to the final round, but the third one might also qualify if gets a score that is 10 per cent or less below the highest bid. The winner will be announced in September.
According to analysts, CEC is the last chance to enter an attractive market such as the Romanian one, and this will reflect in the price. Raiffeisen and OTP are fighting for the top position in Central and Eastern Europe, while the National Bank of Greece tries to consolidate its position in South-Eastern Europe.
The Romanian Minister or Finances Sebastian Vladescu estimated the price of CEC at around EUR 1 billion, while some analysts think bids will be closer to EUR 500 million. If bids are too low, the Ministry of Finance might postpone the sale indefinitely.
CEC has the largest network in Romania, with 1,400 branches and operates 25 per cent of the individual deposits in the market. CEC Chairman Eugen Radulescu thinks that after restructuration, it can become the third largest Romanian bank in terms of assets.