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Report: Nord/LB in talks to sell at least €2B of problem loans

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Report: Nord/LB in talks to sell at least €2B of problem loans

Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale is in talks with multiple interested parties to sell a portfolio of nonperforming loans of at least €2 billion, according to a Bloomberg report carried by Handelsblatt on Aug. 8.

It is still not clear when the northern German lender will reach an agreement for the portfolio sale or whether a deal will be made at all, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The final amount of loans could still rise, the sources added.

Nord/LB is still struggling with loan loss provisions on its sizable shipping portfolio, which contains a large amount of soured debt or loans on the brink of default. Provisions for shipping loans have been weighing on the bank's profitability for the past few years and will remain a drag in 2018 as well. In its first-quarter earnings report, Nord/LB said it will would to make new provisions as the year progresses due to headwinds in the shipping sector.

The bank's shipping portfolio amounted to €11.6 billion as of March 31, of which €7.9 billion represented nonperforming loans. Nord/LB has said it aims to reduce NPLs to less than €5 billion by no later than the end of 2019.

The bank is also seeking to strengthen its core capital position and has set raising its common equity Tier 1 ratio as a key priority for 2018. In the first quarter, the bank had a CET1 ratio of 12.8% as its pretax profit slumped to €43 million from the prior year's €248 million.

Nord/LB's majority owner, the German state of Lower Saxony, is also exploring options to raise the bank's capital, including a sale of part of its shareholding. Lower Saxony has hired Barclays to advise it on a potential sale, according to the report.