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Billionaire Kellner Moves Closer to Taking Over Moneta Bank

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 3/5/2021 Krystof Chamonikolas

(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Petr Kellner has increased the size of the stake in Moneta Money Bank AS he seeks to buy, moving closer to executing his plan to take over the Czech lender.

Kellner’s PPF Group NV has used its right to raise the amount of existing shares it seeks to acquire through a public offer to as much as 29% from the original 20% target, according to a statement from Moneta on Friday. Investors in the Prague-traded lender had until the end of the day to accept the offer of 80 koruna per share.

PPF, whose acquisitions rarely unfold in public before a deal is agreed, wants to combine its Air Bank and affiliated Czech financial assets with Moneta to create one of the largest retail banking operations in the country. To boost the chances of the merger, PPF proposed to first acquire a significant stake in the lender after talks about a similar combination failed two years ago.

“If PPF manages to gain 29% in Moneta, it will obviously move closer to its bigger goal,” said Michal Krikava, an equity analyst at Patria Finance AS in Prague. “I think PPF is confident that, at a shareholders’ meeting, it will manage to push through the second phase of the transaction and take control of Moneta.”

Kellner, the richest Czech with a net worth estimated at $15.8 billion, controls businesses in areas ranging from telecommunications, manufacturing, media and biotechnology. His main financial asset is consumer lending arm Home Credit, with China as its largest market, and the plan to take over Moneta would give him a bigger foothold in traditional retail banking.

chart: Moneta shares move closer to 80 koruna offered by PPF © Bloomberg Moneta shares move closer to 80 koruna offered by PPF

Moneta Chief Executive Officer Tomas Spurny has endorsed the proposed share exchange between the Prague-traded lender and Air Bank. He also wants to try to convince dissenting shareholders, who have complained that the merger terms outlined by PPF overstated the value of its assets.

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Moneta stock jumped after the plan was announced in January, but has been lingering below the 80 koruna offered by PPF. It reversed a four-day decline on Friday, rising 0.3% to 77.9 koruna at the end of trading in Prague, giving the lender a market value of 39.8 billion koruna ($1.8 billion). The exchange ratio proposed by PPF would value Air Bank at about 27 billion koruna.

PPF should announce the results of the public offer for Moneta shares by March 15, according to J&T Banka AS analyst Milan Vanicek.

(Updates with analyst comment in fourth paragraph, share price in sixth.)

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