The sale of Komercijalna Banka is about to be concluded after the opening of binding offers for the largest Serbian state-owned bank. According to unofficial information, three banks are interested in the acquisition – Serbian bank AIK, Slovenian NLB and Austrian Raiffeisen Bank.
However, the media have interpreted the recent statement by the Governor of the Serbian National Bank Jorgovanka Tabakovic that “Serbia is able to manage Komercijalna Banka by itself” as a signal that the state is ready to maintain ownership over Komercijalna.
It is also interesting to note that “since the state became the owner of 83% of the bank’s shares, following the recent payment to international financial institutions, the conditions have been created for the State to show how responsible it is as owner, thus suggesting that the Serbian State will improve the management of the bank without the representatives of the EBRD and IFC in the bank’s Board of Directors.
The day after the bids were opened, the price of Komercijalna Banka’s shares fell from 3,169 dinars to 2,989 dinars. Nenad Gujanicic, from Momentum Securities, points out that the drop was too small to be considered important.
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“As the deadline for the opening of bids approaches and growing uncertainty, there has been a fall in demand for shares of Komercijalna Banka. The increase in share prices so far this year is due to the expectation that the bank will be privatized. Consequently, if privatization were to be abandoned, this would mean a drop in the price of shares and this would be the worst scenario for small shareholders,” explains Gujanicic.
On the other hand, Belgrade’s Faculty of Economics professor, Djordje Djukic, believes that the State should retain ownership of the bank for several reasons. First, because at the end of the third quarter of 2019, the bank recorded positive results, and achieved a return on equity of 13.7% and a return on assets of 2.3%, well above the average for the entire sector.
“If Komercijalna Banka was sold, foreign banks would have over 85% share in the banking sector of Serbia, which in itself would make the Serbian economy much more vulnerable to shocks during the new global economic crisis, which is likely to occur in the near future due to the presence of many economic risks. For the sake of national interests, the government and the central bank should not give foreigners such a successful and important bank, which boasts the largest retail foreign currency savings, a huge number of branches that offer a wide range of banking products and services easily accessible to citizens,” Professor Djukic adds.
This post is also available in: Italiano