(Reuters) — German shipping finance provider HSH Nordbank has received more than ten expressions of interest from potential buyers in the lender which seeks to be sold within a year.
HSH’s owners – the German states of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg jointly hold 85 percent – have to privatise the bank under European state-aid rules by the end of February 2018.
Chief Executive Stefan Ermisch warned on Thursday when presenting annual results that the road to privatisation will be difficult and ask a lot from all parties involved.
According to people close to the matter fellow state-backed regional bank NordLB is planning to bid for HSH as will several private equity companies.
HSH, which had total assets of 84 billion euros ($90 billion) as of the end of 2016 and saw its pretax profit decrease 73 percent to 121 million euros last year, sought backing from its owners after risky assets turned sour in 2008.
It got hit further by the slump in global trade after the financial crisis and the core bank currently has 7 billion euros in ship loans on its books.
The European Commission, HSH and its owners negotiated for years over a plan to restore HSH to health and avoid future state aid. ($1 = 0.9316 euros) (Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Harro ten Wolde)