LISBON, May 24 (Reuters) - Portugal’s finance minister is confident that the country’s planned sale of Novo Banco to U.S. private equity firm Lone Star will go ahead as planned, the minister said on Wednesday.
The sale of Novo Banco has been challenged in court by some bond investors, raising concerns among some analysts that legal disputes could derail the sale after a previous failed attempt.
In an interview with Reuters, Finance Minister Mario Centeno said “all the information I have is that all the foreseen timelines are being met” and that the sale to Lone Star was going ahead as planned.
“The information we have is that these legal challenges will have no practical impact on the completion of the sale,” he added.
Still, he said Portugal was obliged to consider “a series of circumstances and scenarios” that could arise if any of the legal challenges derailed the sale process. The Bank of Portugal is in charge of the sale process.
A group of bondholders led by U.S. fund BlackRock have sought an injunction to block the sale, fearing that it would damage their claim to be compensated for an estimated 1.5 billion euros in losses suffered on Novo Banco bonds.
The courts have yet to make a decision on the case. A failed bidder for Novo Banco has also said it would go to court in a separate attempt to re-open the sale process.
Centeno said the government was in contact with BlackRock over the case but he gave no further details.
Novo Banco was carved out of the country’s biggest ever bank collapse in 2014 after a 4.9-billion-euro rescue operation of Banco Espirito Santo. (Reporting By Axel Bugge; Editing by Mark Bendeich)