The European Commission has concluded that the restructuring plan of the Slovene Banka Celje d.d. and its merger with Abanka Vipa d.d. was in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found in particular that the restructuring plan ensures the viability of the merged entity in the long term without requiring further state support. At the same time the plan also mitigates the distortions of competition brought about by the aid granted to the bank.
Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: "The restructuring plan demonstrates that the merged Banka Celje and Abanka is viable. We have also ensured that taxpayer money was only used to the extent necessary, and appropriate burden sharing was applied. I believe that today's decision will further strengthen the confidence in the Slovenian banking sector."
In December 2013 and January2014 respectively, the Commission authorised Slovenia to proceed with two capital injections in favour of Abanka Vipa d.d.. Slovenia committed to merge Banka Celje and Abanka and to submit a restructuring plan for the merged entity to the Commission.
On 15 October 2014, Slovenia notified the restructuring plan for Banka Celje until the end of 2015 and for the merged entity from 2016 to 31 December 2019. The plan comprises a recapitalisation of € 190 million together with a transfer of assets to the Slovenian Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC) of € 411.5 million (gross book value) in favour of Banka Celje.
According to the restructuring plan and the commitments provided by Slovenia, Banka Celje and, subsequently, the merged entity will limit their scope of activities to their core business in Slovenia. They will improve their corporate governance framework and risk management policy. Banka Celje will clean up its balance sheet through a transfer of non-performing assets to theBAMC. The plan aims at providing the merged entity with a sustainable business model that will ensure its long term viability. Furthermore, Banka Celje's shareholders and subordinated debt holders have contributed to resorbing the bank's losses in proportion to their stakes. This ensures that the bank and its owners adequately contribute to the cost of restructuring.
Based on these elements, the Commission concluded that the restructuring support in favour of Banka Celje and the restructuring following the merger with Abanka was in line with EU rules on state aid for the restructuring of banks during the crisis, and in particular with the requirements of the 2013 "Banking Communication".
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under case number SA.38522 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website, once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.