Lithuanian government chides Hansapank for early meddling in savings bank

  • 2001-02-15
  • BNS
VILNIUS - The Lithuanian government has expressed its discontent with EstoniaÕs Hansapank, the sole winner in the privatization tender of the savings bank, Taupomasis Bankas, arguing that it is causing interference in the internal affairs of the Lithuanian bank before it acquires a majority stake in it. Representatives of Hansapank call these reproaches unfounded.

ÒThe government does not approve of HansapankÕs meddling in the internal and management affairs of Taupomasis Bankas, LithuaniaÕs largest state-owned bank, before it signs the agreement to acquire a majority stake. The possibility that such actions will exert a negative impact on the bankÕs financial situation, as well as on its management cannot be ruled out,Ó the statement released by the governmentÕs press office said.

ÒIt is unacceptable that EstoniaÕs bank, with which negotiations are currently being conducted and the agreement hasnÕt been signed yet, interferes in the activities of Taupo-masis Bankas, announcing in advance which members of the board of Taupomasis Bankas will be dismissed and making other statements, related to the management of the bank,Ó Ona Jukneviciene, prime ministerÕs adviser on privatization matters, told BNS.

ÒIrrespective of the fact that Hansapank is the only bank which expressed interest to acquire shares in Taupomasis Bankas and take part in its privatization, Lithuanian negotiators do not intend to make any concessions detrimental to our country and put up with negotiating partnerÕs legally ungrounded actions,Ó the statement says.

Meanwhile, representatives of Hansapank deny Lithuanian governmentÕs accusations.

ÒDuring negotiations with the State Property Fund, representatives of Hansapank referred to the generally accepted international rules of privatization and business ethics. Information on HansapankÕs interference in the management issues of Taupomasis Bankas is unfounded,Ó Arunas Siksta, chairman of the board of Hansabankas, said in the press statement.

Negotiations with Hansapank, the largest financial institution in the Baltic states, on the sale of a 90.24 percent stake in Taupomasis Bankas got underway on Jan. 10 this year after the government agreed to reduce the minimum selling price of the block of shares and named the Estonian bank the winner in the privatization tender.

Reportedly, the government has lowered the minimum selling price of Taupomasis BankasÕ shares from 200 million litas ($50 million) to around 150 million litas on the condition that Lithuania does not take on extra liabilities with respect to the bankÕs illiquid fixed assets worth around 60 million litas.

Taupomasis Bankas announced an unaudited loss of 32.60 million litas for 2000, as a result of additional provisions for bad loans and assets of the past few years. According to preliminary data, the bankÕs operating profit reached 44.4 million litas last year. The bank posted an audited profit of 16.6 million litas for 1999.

Taupomasis Bankas is LithuaniaÕs second largest commercial bank after Vilniaus Bankas, with assets worth 3.59 billion litas as of late November 2000.