BUDAPEST, April 6 (Reuters) - Prague-based investor APS Holding could acquire Hungary’s MARK Group, set up by the central bank to help banks by purchasing bad loans made on commercial real estate projects, news website index.hu reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources.
MARK was set up in 2014 with an initial budget of up to 300 billion forints ($1.03 billion) in a bid to revive a frozen market and get banks to lend more to companies.
But the project struggled to take off due to a lengthy legal debate with European Union regulators and many commercial banks began to sell bad loans to private investors as the Hungarian real estate market recovered.
Index.hu said MARK had not yet managed to reach an agreement on any transactions with local lenders.
A central bank press official declined comment.
APS spokesman Karel Pluhar said: “APS is now considering new opportunities in CEE region and expansion in Hungary has high priority. Such activity might trigger some rumours on the market. However, I am not able to comment on speculations.”
APS deals with investment, management and recovery of loan portfolios and real estate in central and south-eastern Europe, managing claims with a total value of over 4.4 billion euros ($4.69 billion), according to information on its website.
It gained a foothold in Hungary this year by acquiring a distressed mortgage portfolio from the Hungarian unit of Italy’s largest bank, UniCredit. ($1 = 0.9384 euros) ($1 = 290.87 forints) (Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; editing by Susan Thomas)