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UPDATE 2-PPF would keep MONETA listed after proposed Air Bank tie-up

(Adds details)

PRAGUE, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Investment group PPF expects to gain sufficient support for its offer to take control of MONETA Money Bank through a merger of assets, and it has no plans to de-list the Czech lender, a PPF executive said on Monday.

Jean-Pascal Duvieusart, chief executive of PPF’s global consumer lending group Home Credit and a PPF shareholder, said MONETA could grow into a top-three Czech bank and a strong player in retail and small-business segments.

PPF, 98.93% owned by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, plans a two-pronged deal for MONETA through a voluntary tender offer for up to 29% of shares and the sale of its Air Bank unit and other businesses to MONETA in exchange for shares.

The latter part would need shareholder approval. PPF could gain up to 57% of MONETA in total.

“We are committed to the transaction because we think it makes sense,” Duvieusart said. “We think there will be sufficient support around the transactions.”

The offer of 80 crowns per share, due to launch on Feb. 8, is a 19% premium over MONETA’s share price before the offer was published.

Shares traded up 1.6% at 74.20 crowns per share on Monday.

Duvieusart holds 0.535% of PPF, which has assets amounting to 44 billion euros ($53.20 billion) around the world. He said PPF was committed to keeping MONETA “meaningfully listed”.

“We see clear value in being listed in terms of rating, access to funding, transparency, ability to grow inorganically,” he said.

Some MONETA shareholders have criticised the proposed tie-up. A similar deal fell apart in 2019 when MONETA sought a lower valuation of PPF assets.

Duvieusart said Air Bank’s profitability tripled between 2017 and 2019. The combined groups would have around 2.5 million retail customers in the country of 10.7 million.

He also said the deal was less risky for MONETA shareholders because there is no cash element like before.

Analysts have said the proposed deal values Air Bank at 22.6 billion crowns ($1.05 billion), higher than PPF’s previous attempt.

$1 = 0.8271 euros $1 = 21.4810 Czech crowns Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Ed Osmond and David Evans

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