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EC approves KBC replacing floatation of Hungarian and Czech units

KBC said Wednesday it had received approval from the EC to amend its 2009 strategic plan and to divest its banking and insurance activities in Poland (Kredyt Bank, Warta) and sell or unwind selected ABS and CDO assets instead of floating minority stakes of Czech CSOB Bank and of Hungarian K&H Bank and selling and leasing back its headquarter offices in Belgium.

"Maintaining our stake in our Czech and Hungarian banks will help us to retain our growth options for the future", the bank's statement said, citing Jan Vanhevel, KBC Group CEO.

KBC announced early July it had formally applied to the European Commission to amend the asset relief and restructuring package, citing the impact of certain regulatory changes and the difficulty involved in floating K&H in the current circumstances.

The original restructuring plan involved the sale of KBC's minority stakes in K&H Bank as well as in CSOB through public offerings at the Budapest and Prague stock exchanges.

Jan Vanhevel said on Wednesday that the new measures should release the same amount of capital as the originally intended ones, and would help the bank to repay the state aid in a timely manner as agreed with the European Commission, without jeopardising the fundamentals of its strategy.

KBC received EUR 7 billion support from the Belgian state to tackle the effects of the crisis in 2008. The European Commission approved KBC's restructuring plan in November 2009.

K&H Bank is almost exclusively owned by the KBC group.