EU Approves HSH Nordbank Sale

The European Commission has adopted a resolution on state aid proceedings for Germany’s HSH Nordbank, provided by the two German states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein that own the bank, adding that the bank’s privatisation has to be completed by the end of February 2018.

HSH Nordbank, which is one of the world’s biggest providers of shipping finance, plunged into financial woes in 2008 as the financial crisis disrupted a number of maritime loans, worth billions of euros.

According to the bank, the privatisation deadline may be extended by six months, should implementation be delayed for reasons that are outside the federal states’ scope. Following the change in ownership, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein may retain a combined stake of 25 percent for up to four years.

As the bank would be split up into a holding and an operating company during the process, the commission’s resolution stated that the operational part of the bank will have to make a one-off payment totalling EUR 260 million to the holding company in which the owner’s shares are pooled. The holding company will receive around EUR 50 million to cover its operating costs and EUR 210 million for the premium obligations it will assume in the course of the selling process.

“The formal decision offers us final clarity. The timing is ambitious and the commission had another very close look when working out the details. This has not made the change in ownership any easier. We will nevertheless do all we can to enter the selling process swiftly with a Bank that is well-positioned,” said Constantin von Oesterreich, Chairman of the Management Board of HSH Nordbank.

The commission’s resolution approved the replenishment of the guarantee from EUR 7 billion to EUR 10 billion and the sale of non-performing loans totalling EUR 8.2 billion at market price.

HSH Nordbank said that a major proportion of the premiums payable for the guarantee will in the future be borne by the holding company that is to be established, and no longer by the operating unit.

The final decision follows on from the agreement reached between the commission and the Federal Republic of Germany in March 2016 and forms the basis for a successful restructuring of HSH Nordbank, which will also provide for a change in ownership.

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