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OTP out to buy 'anything' in Romania

The Romanian arm of OTP Bank, Hungary's flagship retail bank, is interested in buying “anything” on the local market as it eyes the acquisition of a large bank to gain market share, Bloomberg reported, citing László Diósi, the unit’s Chief Executive Officer.

OTP has “enough money for a significant acquisition” and would be willing to buy the Romanian unit of a Greek bank, if one was available, Diósi was quoted as saying at a conference in Bucharest.

OTP, the largest lender in Hungary, is in talks with several banks about potential acquisitions in Romania, Slovakia, Croatia and Serbia and has singled out one target in specific in Romania, Chairman Sándor Csányi said in April.

The Bucharest- based Ziarul Financiar yesterday reported that BNP Paribas SA of France, OTP and two British investment funds may bid for Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s Romanian unit.

The unit, RBS Bank Romania SA, has opened its books to potential bidders and may be sold in the next two months for more than €100 million ($144 million), Ziarul Financiar said, adding that RBS Bank Romania declined to comment. Similarly, Diósi declined to comment on whether OTP is reviewing the books of RBS’s local arm.

According to Diósi, OTP is not interested in small-scale purchases. “We want to buy a bank that has at least the same size as us, or bigger, at a moment when the organic growth has become very expensive and is not profitable.”

OTP had a market share of 1.16% in Romania at the end of 2010 and total assets of 3.9 billion lei ($1.3 billion). It would become the 10th or 11th largest bank in the country following the acquisition, Deputy Chief Executive Officer László Wolf said in April.