MONETA's Q4 profit beats estimates ahead of PPF's bid launch

PRAGUE, Feb 5 (Reuters) - MONETA Money Bank, target of a bid by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner’s PPF group, on Friday reported a stronger than expected fourth-quarter net profit.

Kellner’s PPF group is aiming to take control of the country’s sixth-largest bank through a voluntary offer for up to 29% of shares and proposes to merge MONETA with PPF’s smaller Air Bank unit.

The bid, which could give PPF up to 57% of MONETA, comes two years after an earlier failed attempt at a tie-up.

MONETA’s management has said a tie-up with Air Bank could bring benefits and it would seek to negotiate a deal beneficial to MONETA and its shareholders.

MONETA, focused on the retail and SME sectors, reported a 35% fall in net profit in 2020 to 2.6 billion crowns ($120.64 million), hit by provisions for bad loans.

The result was above MONETA’s guidance for a 2.4 billion crown profit. The bank sees a rise in net profit to 2.8 billion in 2021.

Fourth-quarter net profit fell 28% to 685 million crowns, just above a Reuters poll estimate.

PPF is due to launch a share offer at 80 crowns per share, a 19% premium over the closing price before the tender was published on Jan. 22. This should start on Monday while due diligence on the Air Bank proposal is expected.

Analysts have said the proposed deal values Air Bank at 22.6 billion crowns, higher than PPF’s previous attempt in 2019. Some shareholders have criticised the latest offer.

PPF is seeking to have a deal ready for shareholders to approve at MONETA’s annual general meeting, usually held in April.

MONETA Chief Executive Tomas Spurny said on Friday an extraordinary meeting was also a possiblity.

“We could have some issues to meet such a deadline and, rather than rush, I think with a matter of such gravity we can hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss just that,” he said. ($1 = 21.5520 Czech crowns) (Reporting by Jason Hovet. Editing by Jane Merriman)