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Belgian KBC Pulls Out of Slovenia's Largest Bank NLB

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Bailed-out Belgian banking and insurance company KBC is pulling out of Slovenia's Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) and will sell its 22-percent stake back to the state, Slovenia's finance ministry said Friday.

"KBC and Slovenia have agreed the sale of KBC's 22-percent stake in NLB," the ministry said in a statement.

The 2.7-million-euro ($3.6-million) deal includes all shares owned by the Belgian company and was in accordance with KBC's strategic programme agreed in 2009 with the European Commission, it added.

KBC, which first invested in NLB in 2002 acquiring a 34-percent stake, is being forced to divest assets under the Commission's oversight after being bailed out by the Belgian government during the 2007-2009 global financial crisis.

"Slovenia is interested in buying that stake since it will allow a more efficient process of looking for a new long-term partner for NLB," Slovenia's finance ministry said Friday.

The transfer would be carried out at the beginning of 2013, it added.

Finance Minister Janez Sustersic had said in November that the government should consider selling its 59-percent stake in troubled NLB to a foreign investor. But the junior coalition partner, the Slovenian People's Party (SLS), opposed the move.

In October, parliament approved a bill setting up a "bad bank" to take over large volumes of bad debt held by state-owned banks that have raised fears the country may need a bailout.

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