Flowers Mulls Joining HSH Nordbank Capital Hike

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – U.S. investor JC Flowers is mulling joining in a 3 billion euro ($3.8 billion) capital hike for ship financier HSH Nordbank [HSH.UL], the finance minister of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein was quoted as saying.

Flowers, which holds a stake of almost 26 percent in HSH, was considering a limited participation in the hike, Rainer Wiegard was quoted by his spokesman on Monday as saying.

“He (Christopher Flowers) said that he is thinking of participating in the capital measure, possibly to a modest extent,” Wiegard’s spokesman quoted the minister as saying in the television programme Schleswig-Holstein Magazin.

Financial sources familiar with the situation had previously said that Flowers was not on board for the capital hike.

Flowers, who also faces heavy losses on his investment in Hypo Real Estate (HRXG.DE), could not be reached immediately for comment.

HSH, which is restructuring and slashing jobs after racking up a pretax loss of 2.8 billion euros last year, is seeking 3 billion euros in fresh equity capital and 10 billion euros in guarantees to protect itself against further risks.

Two other main shareholders, Schleswig-Holstein and the city-state of Hamburg, which hold stakes of about 30 percent each in the lender, are expected to decide on Tuesday to join in the capital increase.

Schleswig-Holstein’s savings banks have already said they will not join in the capital injection and have even said they want to sell their 14.8 percent stake in the lender.

The savings banks have offered to sell the stake to the state of Schleswig-Holstein, but sources familiar with the matter said the state was not interested.

(Reporting by Patricia Uhlig, Writing by Jonathan Gould; Editing by Andrew Macdonald)