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State-run institutions should consider buying mBank, Polish official says

Polish Finance Minister Jerzy Kwieciński said the country's state-run financial institutions should consider the potential purchase of Commerzbank AG's controlling stake in Polish lender mBank SA, Reuters reported.

"I'm saying very clearly that when such a thing happens on the market ... then Polish financial institutions should be interested," Kwieciński reportedly said.

The Polish state and local investors control 59.2% of the banking sector in the country, and Poland's ruling party, PiS, has indicated that it would like to further increase domestic ownership in the sector, the newswire reported.

Polish media outlets named a number of potential investors that could be interested in purchasing mBank, including PKO Bank Polski SA and Bank Pekao SA, while Parkiet recently reported that the lender could be acquired by Polish insurer Powszechny Zakład Ubezpieczeń Spółka Akcyjna or its unit Alior Bank SA. The Polish state, directly and indirectly, holds significant stakes in all of the aforementioned entities.

Market participants cited by Parkiet suggested that PZU could sell its 20% stake in Pekao to PKO Bank Polski, which could result in a merger between PKO and Pekao. Meanwhile, using the money obtained from the sale of Pekao shares and its capital surplus, PZU could purchase mBank directly or through Alior Bank and merge those two financial institutions, according to a Parkiet report.

This mBank purchase scenario is considered unlikely and is just an idea put forward by local market participants, the newspaper noted in its Oct. 18 report. However, it added that a source close to PZU told Parkiet that "such a scenario is on the table."