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Crucial HSH Nordbank sales talks now begin after numerous bids

The owners of Germany's HSH Nordbank have received several binding bids for the bank, and the new owner will be found by February 2018. The bank says it has reached a milestone.

German HSH Nordbank is approaching a sale. The deadline for submitting bids on the bank expired last Friday at midnight, and the shipping bank has received several binding bids, informs HSH Nordbank in a press release.

The bank does not reveal the exact number of bids received, though talks will now begin ahead of the February 2018 deadline for Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein's sale of the bank.

"These binding bids take us a big step closer to a successful privatization solution," says CEO Stefan Ermisch (photo) in the press release, noting that the bank's restructuring over the course of the year has been fruitful.

CEO Sefan Ermisch has since March received numerous indications of bids. Now the bank has reached a milestone, he says.

Sources close to the process reveal that bids have been submitted by three funds that have been mentioned frequently ahead of the deadline, namely Apollo, Cerberus, and J.C. Flowers. The funds, according to Reuters, have placed bids on the bank, which the EU has decided must be privatized before the end of February next year.

HSH Nordbank has had massive difficulties with costly loans made to shipping prior to the financial crisis now weighing the bank down. During the restructuring of HSH, the two Germen federal states Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein have provided several crucial guaranties totaling around EUR 10 billion, which helped ensure the bank's survival.

Today, the two states together own 89 percent of HSH, while local banks own 6 percent and fund J.C. Flowers, allegedly among the potential buyers, owns 5 percent.

The goal is to sell the bank as one whole asset, but the states have signaled that HSH could also be sold in several parts.

Ermisch says in the press release that the bank plans to further reduce the loans made before the financial recession. By late 2016, the portfolio of non-performing loans stood at EUR 13.6 billion. In 2017, the portfolio will reach EUR 8 billion, and the bank plans to reduce this figure to less than EUR 4 billion next year.

English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch

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