Anbang out, Apollo in – the “race” to buy Novo Banco continues

After a D-Day that came and went, the Bank of Portugal has finally announced that it has dropped negotiations with Chinese insurer Anbang and is now trying to sell Novo Banco to American group Apollo.

With strong reactions set to follow – notably from opposition politicians of all hues – this latest embarrassment in the ongoing BES fallout is now even more certain than before to rebound on the nation’s taxpayers.

In a short statement following the Bank of Portugal’s announcement late this morning, Socialist leader António Costa said it was “a very serious error” of the coalition government and the Bank of Portugal to have created the “illusion” that their “resolution” of the BES crisis would not impact on the man in the street.

But not wanting to “prejudice” negotiations now set to open with Apollo, Costa limited his criticisms saying now was the time to reach the best deal possible “with the least damage to the economy, Portugal’s financial system and above all, its taxpayers”.

Apollo has been invited back into the fold as its offer for the good bank was seen by Bank of Portugal as “the second best”, explained SIC TV this morning.

Considering Anbang’s offer – variously pegged at €3.5 and €3.2 billion – fell around €1.5 billion short of what the Bank of Portugal was hoping for, it remains to be seen what kind of deal can be reached.

Media sources say Chinese group Fosun – which offered the third best deal – is waiting on the sidelines if talks with Apollo lead nowhere.

But Apollo is presented as a strong bet. Full name Apollo Global Management, it is a group that Económico website presents as having €14.5 billion to invest within the next five years.It was not through lack of money that Apollo was put in second place in this “race” that has so far run up a blind alley, explains the site, stressing that Apollo’s offer has the kind of flexibility that is “much closer to the desires” of the Bank of Portugal.

Led in Portugal by Gustavo Guimarães, Apollo is described as already in negotiations in this 5th phase of a sale process that the coalition government is desperate to have concluded before the legislative elections, due on October 4.

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