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Three banks in bid for CEC

Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich AG, OTP Bank Nyrt and the National Bank of Greece submitted bids yesterday to buy a majority stake in Casa de Economii si Consemnatiuni SA, the last Romanian state-owned bank for sale. Romania's Finance Ministry confirmed all three banks made binding bids before the end of the stipulated deadline. Finance Minister Sebastian Vladescu said in a statement late today that “we'll open the offers at a July 25 meeting and will announce the winner in a maximum of two months.'' Raiffeisen, National Bank of Greece and Hungary's OTP have all bought banks in Romania in previous years and are looking to buy a 70% stake in CEC to boost their market share in the country. Romania has a population of nearly 22 million people, and plans to gain accession to the EU on Jan. 1. Romania's CEC has the biggest network in Romania, with hundreds of offices even in remote villages. Dexia, Belgium's third-biggest financial-services company, this month decided to withdraw from bidding for CEC without giving a reason. Romania's business newspaper Ziarul Financiar in April reported Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA also pulled out from bidding for CEC. (Bloomberg, MH, NG, Nb)