Exclusive - Raiffeisen to revive Polish bank sale within days: sources

By Marcin Goclowski and Adrian Krajewski

WARSAW (Reuters) - Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) will revive attempts to sell its Polish banking business in the coming days, two banking sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

The Austrian bank decided to sell Raiffeisen Polbank earlier this year to help it reach a core capital ratio of 12 percent by the end of 2017.

But it said in July the plan could be delayed due to complications over Swiss franc mortgages, which the Polish government wants converted into zlotys mostly at banks' cost. Analysts said uncertainty over Poland's plans to introduce a new bank tax could also hamper a sale.

RBI has since decided to keep Polbank's Swiss franc mortgage portfolio and sell the business without it. One banking source also said that, from RBI's point of view, there was now greater certainty about the looming bank tax.

"So they are able to tell investors now how much the bank is worth. That is why they are trying to sell it again," the source said.

A second source said RBI had asked investment bank Citi to send out information to potential buyers this week or next.

A spokeswoman for RBI said: "It is true that we are planning a new start. We will not announce the timing publicly."

Raiffeisen Polbank is Poland's ninth biggest bank by assets, with a book value of 6 billion zlotys (£1 billion). Its Swiss franc mortgage portfolio is one of the largest in Poland, worth an estimated 12.5 billion zlotys.

Poland's KNF financial regulator has given RBI a deadline of June 2016 to sell a stake in Polbank on the Warsaw stock market as part of its drive to improve transparency in the industry.

It said in April that it would require RBI to conduct the initial public offering (IPO) of the stake prior to any sale of the bank to an investor.

On Tuesday, a KNF spokesman said: "They are to conduct an IPO by June and this is important to us".

Analysts said RBI could line up an investor to buy the bulk of Polbank in the IPO process.

Banking sources previously told Reuters that the only prospective buyer to show interest in Polbank was Polish insurer PZU and that it had offered a price below Polbank's book value.

PZU would merge Polbank with its banking unit Alior Bank , the sources said.

(Additional reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; Editing by Mark Potter)


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