LISBON: Given the Reserve Bank’s preference for a “shareholder of reference”, the buyer is likely to have deep pockets. However, other banks may be precluded due to competition issues.
Caixa, which has been Mercantile’s sole shareholder since it delisted in 2012, is Portugal’s largest bank by assets.
The sale of Mercantile and other banking assets globally was a European Central Bank-imposed condition of a restructured loan.
The Portuguese council of ministers would consider 18 nonbinding offers, Kumbier said. “Four bidders have been supported by our board and the board of Caixa,” said the CEO.
“In two weeks’ time, the government will approve a shortlist and those short-listed bidders will then be allowed to do a due diligence on Mercantile and have access to management.
“We are hoping for a new shareholder by the end of the year,” Kumbier said.
The sale comes as SA’s banking sector is undergoing considerable change, welcoming new entrants, including Discovery Bank and TymeDigital, for the first time in more than a decade. It also presents the possibility of a black-owned bank entering the market.