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CEO confident Novo Banco will be sold, cites new investor interest

LISBON, Sept 21 New institutional investors have shown interest in Portugal's Novo Banco, which the state is trying to sell to recover billions of euros in rescue loans, in the past month in addition to the four offers received in June, its CEO said.

Antonio Ramalho, who took over a month ago, wrote in an internal message to employees that was seen by Reuters that his administration was also working on preparing a possible initial public offering for such investors.

"Therefore, there is no reason to believe that the bank will not find one or various shareholders in this sale process, whatever the model," he wrote, adding that the bank was fully supportive of the idea of a direct sale of Novo Banco by the Bank Resolution Fund.

"This month we have seen a renewed attention from the current competitors in the direct sale of our bank, as well as new interest by new potential investors in an IPO environment," he wrote.

In June, Portugal's central bank received four offers for Novo Banco, the "good bank" successor to Banco Espirito Santo after a state rescue in 2014, in its second attempt to sell the lender.

Sources linked to the process have named Portugal's Banco BPI, U.S. fund Apollo Global Management jointly with Lone Star Funds, and private equity firm Centerbridge as the bidders.

In the 2014 rescue, Portugal injected 4.9 billion euros ($5.4 bln) into Novo Banco after its predecessor crumbled under the debts of its founding Espirito Santo family. (Reporting By Sergio Goncalves, writing by Andrei Khalip, editing by Axel Bugge)

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