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NORD/LB not bidding for HSH Nordbank

Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale has reiterated that it will not pursue an acquisition of parts or the whole of HSH Nordbank AG. The bidding period ends at midnight, Hamburg time, on March 31.

NORD/LB was rumored to be among suitors for HSH Nordbank at the end of February following the official launch of the sale process a month earlier. Yet it has denied any interest in HSH several times, and analysts have assessed the likelihood of a tie-up between HSH Nordbank and NORD/LB as very low.

A spokesman for NORD/LB said March 31 that such a deal does not fit in the lender's strategy, according to Handelsblatt. But despite its repeated denials of interest, NORD/LB did participate in the first round of bidding, an insider told the newspaper, which added that more than 10 companies approached HSH Nordbank during the offer period.

Under a deal made with EU authorities in March 2016, HSH Nordbank must be privatized by February 2018 or it faces possible wind-down. The deal included the transfer of €5 billion in bad loans to the bank's majority owners, the German states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, and was made under state-aid rules triggered by the 2013 expansion of a guarantee initially provided during the global financial crisis.

HSH Nordbank, which was a main financier of the German shipping industry, still struggles under the weight of its nonperforming shipping loans. Around €9 billion out of its remaining €17 billion shipping portfolio is still at risk of default, according to Die Welt.

The lender said March 30 that it made further special loan-loss provisions amounting to €2 billion for its legacy shipping assets.