Advent bids again for Hypo Balkans network, sets deadline-Reuters

(Reuters) – Private equity group Advent International and its partner the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) plan to submit a new offer for the Balkans network of nationalized Austrian lender Hypo Alpe Adria on Wednesday but said they are prepared to walk away if no deal happens by next week.

Hypo had agreed in principle to sell the asset to Advent and the EBRD before Austria changed course last month and reopened the sale to other bidders who had been in the hunt.

That allowed a group of Bulgarian investors, backed by Russian financial group VTB, and Russian investor Igor Kim’s Expobank, back into the race.

Advent and the EBRD agreed to submit a fresh offer after constructive talks with Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling on Tuesday, an Advent spokesman said.

Its offer would put the Balkan network on a sound footing and allow gradual repayment of 2.2 billion euros ($2.75 billion) in financing that Hypo had provided its Balkan units.

FIMBAG, the holding company for Austrian state stakes in banks, aims to have a deal signed by Dec. 23, he said, calling that “the last possible date for a signing with Advent and the EBRD”.

It was not immediately clear if the other two suitors would bid as well by today’s cut-off date for binding offers.

The European Commission has set a deadline of mid-2015 for signing a sale of the Balkan network, last valued at 89 million euros. It includes banks and leasing companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.