LJUBLJANA, March 15 Slovenia's Gorenjska Banka,
which is up for sale, said margin pressure means its net profit
is likely to slip in 2017 after virtually doubling last year on
reduced bad loans.
One of Slovenia's smaller banks, Gorenjska was among the
worst hit by the country's banking crisis, which pushed the euro
zone member to the brink of an international bailout in 2013.
It returned to profit in 2014 and reported a net profit of
6.3 million euros ($6.7 million) for 2016 on Wednesday, up from
3.2 million euros in 2015, as it reduced bad loans to 195
million euros, or 11.3 percent of all loans by the end of 2016.
That was down 6 percentage points from a year earlier.
Chief Executive Andrej Andoljsek said profit was likely to
fall this year due to declining margins in the banking sector,
caused by very low interest rates in the euro zone.
Gorenjska has been up for sale since last year, after the
Bank of Slovenia ordered majority shareholder, finance and
tourism group Sava, to sell, saying the indebted group
was not financially strong enough to support Gorenjska.
Serbia's AIK Banka, Gorenjska's second largest
shareholder, is the likely buyer. It has said it hopes to take a
majority stake in Gorenjska and gained approval from Slovenia's
central bank last month to increase its stake to more than 50
percent, from 19.8 percent currently.
Gorenjska said it could not comment on the sale process.
The bank's balance sheet assets rose by 4.3 percent last
year to 1.5 billion euros and it expects a similar growth in
assets this year, Chief Executive Andrej Andoljsek told a news
Bad loans should also fall further this year, he said.
AIK was not immediately available for comment on whether and
when it might take over Gorenjska. Gorenjska's other main
shareholders are local companies.
Some of the biggest banks in Slovenia are still state-owned
and the government controls about 45 percent of the banking
The rest are owned by foreign banks and investors, including
US investment firm Apollo Global Management, France's
bank Societe Generale, Italy's Unicredit and
Intesa Sanpaolo, Russia's Sberbank, Austria's
Sparkasse and Addiko Bank.
($1 = 0.9412 euros)
(Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Susan Fenton)