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PPF would welcome majority in MONETA but up to shareholders, CFO says

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PRAGUE, Dec 2 (Reuters) – PPF, the Czech Republic’s biggest investment group, would welcome majority control of domestic lender MONETA Money Bank, but is not seeking it “at all costs,” its chief financial officer said on Thursday.

Katerina Jiraskova also said in an interview the intention remained to keep MONETA listed in Prague.

PPF, which owns nearly 30% in MONETA, wants to sell its own Czech and Slovak lending assets to the bank in a 25.9 billion crown ($1.2 billion) deal largely financed by a proposed MONETA share issue.

An earlier attempt was rejected by MONETA shareholders last June that would have seen PPF become MONETA’s majority owner.

PPF and MONETA have presented a revised deal including a two-round share issue open to all shareholders. Proceeds will cover most of MONETA’s purchase of PPF’s Air Bank. PPF has agreed to take up unsubscribed shares, providing a backstop.

MONETA’s shareholders are set to vote on that on Dec. 20.

“We believe we have reflected all the points raised before by either shareholders or proxy agencies, so hopefully we will get there,” Jiraskova said at PPF’s offices.

The financing structure will see MONETA issue 255.5 million new shares. MONETA currently has 511 million shares.

Shareholders are entitled to one new MONETA share for every two they hold at 82 crowns – a discount to the 89.25 crown closing price before the new terms were announced. A second round will be offered at 90 crowns per share.

Jiraskova said other MONETA shareholders would now determine PPF’s eventual stake.

“If we have control, that will be nice, if we do not, we do not,” she said.

PPF has said it would not attempt the Air Bank deal again if MONETA shareholders reject it a second time.

If that happened, PPF would put its investment in MONETA under review, Jiraskova said.

PPF and MONETA are aiming to build a retail and small-business lender that would have 2.5 million customers in a country of 10.7 million people, helping it compete against foreign-owned rivals.

($1 = 22.5240 Czech crowns) (Reporting by Jason Hovet and Jan Lopatka Editing by Mark Potter)


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