Die Serbische Staatsbank Vojvodjanska Banka, ist nun in Besitz der National Bank von Griechenland.

Bank privatisation in Serbia almost complete


The process of privatising Serbia's state-owned banks moved a step closer towards completion last week when National Bank of Greece purchased Vojvodjanska Banka.

By Igor Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade – 18/09/06

The National Bank of Greece now owns the majority stake in Serbia's Vojvodjanska Banka. [Getty Images]

The National Bank of Greece (NBG) purchased a 99.44% stake in Novi Sad-based Vojvodjanska Banka for 385m euros last Tuesday (12 September). Vojvodjanska Banka is the second largest in Serbia, with around 700,000 clients. Serbian Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic and NBG General Manager Takis Arapoglou signed the deal for the formerly state-held bank.

The government has "successfully completed the privatisation of Serbian banks", Dinkic said. Since early 2005, the state has sold its majority stakes in Jubanka, Continental, Novosadska, Niska, and Panonska banks. The sales have brought Serbia a little under one billion euros.

As of now, Komercijalna Banka remains the sole Serbian bank with a majority state-controlled stake.

The new owner of Vojvodjanska Banka has pledged to pay 360m euros over the next three months -- almost four times Vojvodjanska Banka's capital. The remaining 25m euros will be kept in a special account until mid-2008 and the release of those funds will depend on the fate of controversial loans Vojvodjanska Banka had been granting Serbian companies.

In return, NBG will grant the Serbian Development Fund a loan worth 25m euros for a period of seven years and at a favorable interest rate. The monetary transactions should be complete in about three months, Dinkic said.

The Greek bank also has vowed to invest 40m euros in the bank, mostly in technology and network expansion, and to retain the 2,415 workers for the next three years. NBG also agreed to keep the bank's name and headquarters in Novi Sad.

"NBG sees Serbia as a strategic market," Arapoglou said, adding that the bank intends to increase Vojvodjanska Banka's market share. Greek Ambassador to Belgrade Hristos Panagopoulos, who attended the signing, said he expects Greek investors to help improve business conditions in Serbia.

The sale of Vojvodjanska Banka follows a landmark privatisation deal earlier this summer, when mobile operator Mobi 63 was sold to Norway's Telenor for 1.5 billion euros. The Serbian government has said it will invest 1 billion euros from privatisation in infrastructure reconstruction, stimulating production and exports, and the early repayment of foreign debts.