Bloomberg News

UniCredit May Look at Denizbank Should Qatar Drop Out

March 09, 2012

UniCredit SpA (UCG), co-owner of Turkey’s fourth-biggest traded lender, may look at buying Turkey’s Denizbank AS (DENIZ) if talks fail to sell it to Qatar National Bank SAQ (QNBK), Chief Executive Officer Federico Ghizzoni said.

Denizbank was put up for sale last year by Dexia SA (DEXB), the Franco-Belgian bank being broken up amid losses. UniCredit, which already owns Turkey’s Yapi ve Kredi Bankasi SA together with Koc Holding AS (KCHOL), wasn’t in a position to enter the Denizbank auction so far, Ghizzoni told reporters in Vienna late yesterday.

“When they started to look for a buyer, we were in the middle of our rights issue,” Ghizzoni said. “At this moment we can’t do anything because there is a negotiation ongoing with Qatar,” he said. Should QNB pull out, “the bank will be again in the market and we’ll see what we do.”

Turkey is among the four countries in emerging Europe on which UniCredit is focusing its investment and where Ghizzoni said he isn’t ruling out future acquisitions, the others being Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic.

“We don’t have now a dossier open, but in these four countries I can’t rule out possibilities in the future,” he said.

Talks over Denizbank with QNB are stalled over price and may collapse, people with knowledge said last month. Dexia is seeking about 1.5 times Denizbank’s book value of $2.1 billion, while Doha-based QNB is prepared to pay between 1 and 1.2 times, the people said. Banks including Russia’s OAO Sberbank (SBER) and HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) dropped out of the process earlier saying the price was too high.

“You know the multiples and the price requested from HSBC, and we would have done the same,” Ghizzoni said. “Looking back, the lesson is that when you buy at multiples that are already over 1.5” times book value, “it’s very difficult to get your capital back,” he said. “Anything above this level is very, very aggressive.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Boris Groendahl in Vienna at bgroendahl@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net


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