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Bank Pekao/BPH: Poland uses tricks to prevent the merger

7.2.2006 9:47
Autor: KBC/Patria

Yesterday, the European Court of Justice confirmed receiving a Polish appeal against the European Commission's clearance of the takeover by UniCredit of HVB Group. The government accused the commission of misjudging the impact of the deal on the Polish market, where the local units of both banks would merge to become the dominant player. According to deputy treasury minister Pawel Szalamacha, experience shows that it takes up to two years for the European Court of Justice to solve a case. If the court fails to confirm the standpoint of the treasury ministry, there will still be the question of banking supervision or a Pekao privatisation agreement. He added that the treasury is waiting for UniCredito reply to its ultimatum letter and that the "best reply of the Italian bank would be its consent to sell shares in BPH in coming three months." Until that time, he sees no possibility to meet with Unicredito representatives. However, this statement contradicts yesterday’s comments from PM Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, who declared his intention to meet Alessandro Profumo this month.

Separately, Leszek Balcerowicz, head of Polish central bank, and chairman of the banking supervision commission, stated that he sees no rationale behind halting the works of the commission on the UniCredito case. This came following comments from deputy state treasury ministry, who believes that the commission should stop work on a consent for UniCredito, or even make a refusal decision.

According to spokesman for the treasury, Polish representatives will meet the European Commission on Thursday in order to discuss the UniCredito case. From a short-term trading perspective Bank BPH has benefited (on speculation that minorities could benefit from the high price of a trade sale) and Bank Pekao suffered (as potential merger synergy appears in doubt or at least delayed). In our opinion, these trading issues have already been priced in and we reiterate our Buy rating on Bank Pekao for those with patience. On valuation grounds, we rate the more expensive Bank BPH a Hold.


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