December 3, 2018 / 3:43 PM / 8 days ago

NordLB stake sale delayed; talks with Cerberus, Apollo continue: source

FRANKFURT/BERLIN (Reuters) - The sale of a stake in German public-sector bank NordLB is facing delays as bidders Cerberus and Apollo (APO.N) were asked to elaborate on their offers, people close to the matter said.

The two buyout groups last week handed in final bids. But certain aspects remained vague and NordLB’s owners decided over the weekend that more discussion was needed, the people said, adding that neither of the private equity groups was expected to enter exclusive discussions imminently.

NordLB late on Monday confirmed that after an initial analysis of the received offers it had decided to conduct follow-up discussions with bidders, which it did not name, aiming to choose one or more suitors “to carry on further in-depth negotiations”.

“Due to the complexity and different strategic directions of the bids, a final decision in favor of one of the options may only be made at the beginning of next year in close cooperation with the supervisory authorities,” the bank said.

Separately, the bank remains in talks over the sale of two portfolios of a combined 6.5 billion euros ($7.4 billion) in non-performing ship loans, which it expects to sell at heavy discounts.

But the ship loan sale is contingent on the stake sale as the writedowns on the loans account for the bulk of NordLB’s capital needs.

NordLB said that the loan sale may lead to a temporary decrease of capital ratios and a potential balance sheet loss.

NordLB hopes to boost its capital by about 3.5 billion euros through the stake sale. It remained unclear whether the bank will be able to finalize a deal by year-end, the people said.

While public-sector lender Helaba [HLHTG.UL] did not hand in a formal offer for NordLB last week, talks between NordLB and Helaba stakeholders continue on whether a public-sector solution can be found.

Cerberus declined to comment, while Apollo was not immediately available for comment.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Saul and Christoph Steitz; Editing by Ludwig Burger and Stephen Coates

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