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Komercni banka: Some sources reiterate news that bids are lower than expected

22.6.2001 9:35
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The Prague MFDnes daily newspaper, which reported on Wednesday that the expected KB privatization revenues are lower than previously stated only to see this claim rejected by various officials and a deputy finance minister, today reiterates its original story. The paper again quotes “the latest information” about the bids, and reports that Unicredito and Societe Generale bid around CZK 30 bil.–33 bil. (CZK 1,315-1,447 per share) and that HypoVereinsbank’s bid is CZK 22 bil. (CZK 965 per share). According to the paper, Hypo’s bid is not conditional on further government assistance but it is not clear whether the two top bids assume additional guarantees. The paper suggests that a price close to CZK 40 bil. (around CZK 1,700 per share) would be achievable only if major new guarantees were pledged (the finance ministry has repeatedly said that there will be no more government guarantees for KB, we add).

The paper’s original report on Wednesday brought KB stock price down as low as CZK 1,053; although today’s report may again undermine the market’s confidence in the official government expectations (CZK 35 bil.–38 bil., or CZK 1,535-1,666 per share), we think it unlikely that the Wednesday’s fall will be repeated (though the market is confused and we do expect volatility). More conclusive information could come next week, when the government should know the advisor’s recommendation and the Cabinet could decide on the tender winner.

Separately, another paper (HN) reports that the finance ministry will issue a letter assuring bidders that KB’s insurance subsidiary is trouble-free (there is talk of a need for capital increase at the subsidiary, which also had troubles with client data leaks). Some (including a former deputy finance minister) interpret the letter as a form of guarantee, but deputy finance minister J. Sulc denies that the letter implies any commitment on behalf of the state.

(Ondřej Daťka)

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