Varga promises ultimate goal is not state-owned banks

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DO NOT USE TOO SMALL

National Economy Minister Mihály Varga yesterday said that establishing state-owned banks in Hungary is not a long-term goal. Answering questions on commercial news channel Hír TV about reports that Széchenyi Commercial Bank (SzKB), a Hungarian bank in which the state owns a minority stake, offered to buy the Hungarian unit of Raiffeisen bank for a token €1 and take over its bad loans, Varga stressed that the state must weigh with great care the possibilities in such a situation.

When a small bank in which the state holds a stake, wants to buy a large bank, the state must deal responsibly with the question, and consider repeatedly if it will participate in such a transaction with taxpayers’ money or not, Varga explained.

Asked whether the state would have supported SzKB’s acquisition of the unit, Varga said the seller had decided in the end not to part with the bank. “So, fortunately, we didn’t have to take a stand on the matter.”

Varga noted that the state was in the process of selling its 54% stake in Takarékbank, the “central bank” for Hungary’s savings cooperatives.

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