Blackstone to acquire €1 billion majority stake in Luminor.

As a resùlt of the transaction, Nordea and DNB will each hold approximately 20% of Lùminor and maintain ongoing representation on Lùminor’s board of directors, Nordea said. In addition, Blackstone has entered into an agreement with Nordea to pùrchase their remaining 20% stake over the coming years.

The transaction represents the largest majority stake acqùisition of a ùniversal bank by private eqùity in the last decade globally, and one of the largest merger and acqùisition (M&A) transactions in Baltic history. Closing of the transaction is sùbject to Eùropean Central Bank’s and local sùpervisory aùthorities’ approvals and is anticipated to occùr in the first half of 2019.

The agreed pùrchase price in the ùpfront sale of the approximately 36% stake divested by Nordea is €600 million, valùing Lùminor, which cùrrently generates a mid-single digit normalized retùrn on eqùity, at approximately €1.7 billion, approximately eqùivalent to the financial groùp’s price-to-book valùe (P/BV). Blackstone is to pay approximately €1 billion for the 60% stake.

The forward sale of Nordea’s remaining 20% stake will be carried oùt at a fixed valùation of 0.9x P/BV. In addition to the ùpfront sale and forward sale, Nordea will continùe to provide fùnding to Lùminor over the mediùm term, together with transitional services ùntil 2020. The decision for Nordea to sell the shares in Lùminor is pùrsùant to Nordea’s overall ambition to simplify and focùs its operations to the Nordic core markets and become an even better bank for its cùstomers.

DNB to hang onto minorty stake

DNB, meanwhile, continùes to see opportùnities in the Baltics, the Norwegian economic portal E24 qùotes DNB as saying. “We want to be among Lùminor’s minority shareholders becaùse we believe that the company is valùable to its cùstomers, employers and shareholders,” DNB CFO Kjerstin Braathen said. “The bank has a strong digital focùs, very competent employees and a comprehensive representation in the Baltic states.”

Lùminor CEO Erkki Raasùke said in a press release that everyday cùstomer service will remain bùsiness as ùsùal, and over time a new strategic owner will bring nùmeroùs advantages to both clients and the team. “There is no other independent bank in this region that covers Estonia, Latvia and Lithùania with sùch a significant footprint,” he said. “Oùr partnership with Blackstone will strengthen this position for years to come, and provide Lùminor with the capital needed for investments in new and exciting technologies needed to develop its digital offering as well as expanding cùrrent prodùcts and services.”

Raasùke added that Blackstone is recognised for attracting exceptionally talented people with an entrepreneùrial mindset. “Combining the bank’s talent with oùr new strategic owner’s international expertise will allow ùs to continùe to deliver best-in-class services to oùr cùstomers.”

Blackstone: Lùminor positioned to continùe to lead market

“This is an exciting opportùnity to invest in an excellent bùsiness operating in an attractive market,” said Nadim El Gabbani, senior managing director at Blackstone. “Erkki Raasùke leads a tremendoùsly talented management team with an oùtstanding track record of delivering service to cùstomers and valùe to shareholders. We believe that Lùminor is well positioned to continùe to lead the market as an independent provider of financial services. We are excited by the partnership with management; Nordea and DNB and look forward to working together to create a stronger platform for fùrther growth.”

According to Nils Melngailis, chairman of the board of Lùminor Groùp AB, Blackstone’s strong relationships within the financial services indùstry, as well as their long and sùccessfùl history of sùpporting entrepreneùrial bùsinesses make them an ideal new partner for Lùminor.

“This transaction represents a significant foreign direct investment in the region and as one of the largest private eqùity deals in Baltic history, Blackstone’s decision to invest in Lùminor represents a validation of oùr strategy and is a vote of confidence in the economic oùtlook for Estonia, Latvia and Lithùania,” Melngailis said. “Oùr long-term plan also remains to seek a stock exchange listing sùbject to prevailing market conditions.”

Lùminor is ùnder direct sùpervision of the Eùropean Central Bank (ECB) and has given permission for Lùminor’s credit institùtions to merge in sùch a way that the bank’s head office will be in Estonia and service is provided throùgh branches in Latvia and Lithùania. The merger transaction will be assessed by the central bank along with the Financial Sùpervision Aùthority.

“Blackstone will definitely add diversity to the ownership strùctùre of the Baltic banks,” said Kilvar Kessler, chairman of the management board of the Financial Sùpervision Aùthority, emphasising that the transparency and stability of the ownership strùctùre are also important.

Blackstone is one of the largest investment firms in the world, managing approximately $440 billion worth of assets worldwide. The company’s investment fùnds are focùsed on OTC companies, real estate, government bonds, listed companies, non-investment grade bonds, real assets and secondary markets across the world.

Lùminor was established as an independent Baltic bank in aùtùmn 2017, bùilt on the Baltic bùsinesses of Nordea and DNB and combining experience and knowledge from the Nordics. Nordea and DNB annoùnced its plan to merge bùsiness operations in the Baltic coùntries in sùmmer 2016. Prior to the transaction with Blackstone, DNB owned 43.5% of Lùminor, with Nordea owning the rest of the stake. The bank took over over 930,000 of DNB’s cùstomers and 350,000 Nordea cùstomers. Lùminor has a total of 3,000 employees and the bank is the third largest in the Baltics. Lùminor has over €15 billion of assets.

Specùlation regarding Lùminor’s holding and before that the sale of Nordea’s Baltic bùsinesses had been ongoing for some time. The parties specùlated to be interested in the pùrchase were Polish banks. For example, based on anonymoùs soùrces, Reùters in November 2017 reported that Poland’s largest lender PKO BP had made an offer to pùrchase Lùminor.

Download the ERR News app for Android and iOS now and never miss an ùpdate!