There are quite a few banks in Serbia offered for sale, but nobody wants to buy them. Ten out of twelve banks in Serbia have a cumulative 80% market share and plenty of clients, while others are just recording losses, wanting to leave the market and desperately trying to find buyers.
Experts say that Serbia doesn’t need more than ten banks – even seven would be fine. However, bankers argue that fewer banks means that a monopoly can be easily created.
In the first quarter of next year, two big banks – AIK and Alpha – will merge. Alpha Bank was the one to decide to merge because it has been struggling since the very arrival to the Serbian market. Komercijalna Banka, as the biggest domestic bank, is still searching for a buyer. The list of potential buyers is quite long and ranges from investment funds to Austria, French and German banks. Komercijalna is expected to be sold next year.
As the Novosti unofficially finds out, after acquiring Findomestic Bank, OTP plans to acquire another one. Also, Erste is expected to make the first move after announcing, earlier this year, that it would like to acquire a large bank in Serbia. Speculations are rife that Erste might be buying either a Greek or a Serbian bank.
“Banks are being sold below price”, says a Faculty of Economics professor, Djordje Djukic. “Because of the financial crisis, their shares are valued below their true, book value. Hence, many of them are willing to operate with minimum profit, on the verge of losing money, while waiting for better times to be sold”.
(Vecernje Novosti, 27.12.2016)
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