January 7, 2018 / 9:15 PM / 13 days ago

Three investors place bids for Germany's HSH Nordbank - source

BERLIN (Reuters) - Three private-equity investors have submitted bids for German state-backed HSH Nordbank [HSH.UL], a person familiar with the matter said, as the EU-enforced privatization of the lender is nearing the finishing line.

Buyout groups Apollo (APO.N), Socrates and a consortium of private equity firms Cerberus CBS.UL and J.C. Flowers who already owns about 5 percent of HSH, have placed takeover bids for the lender, the person told Reuters on Sunday on condition he not be named because the matter is confidential.

HSH became the world’s largest lender to the shipping industry in the 2000s but after a slump in the industry it required a state rescue and is now majority-owned by the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg.

Under European Union state-aid rules HSH must be privatized by the end of February or be wound down.

Spokespeople for Hamburg, Germany’s second-most populous city and its most northern state of Schleswig-Holstein said on Sunday that a number of bids were received in due time by the Friday deadline. They provided no details.

    “It’s worth entering the new year full steam ahead and to commit time and effort to the (privatization) process,” said Monika Heinold, finance minister of Schleswig-Holstein. “It appears that the sale can succeed.”

    That view was echoed by HSH Chairman Thomas Mirow in an interview with Boersen-Zeitung published last week.

    Reporting by Klaus Lauer; Writing by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Kathrin Jones and Elaine Hardcastle

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