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Romania Cancels CEC Bank Privatization, Unhappy With Bids

The Romanian government has canceled the privatization of the country's last state-owned bank, CEC, due to lower than expected bids and will focus instead on restructuring the bank before trying again to sell it, Finance Minister Sebastian Vladescu said.

National Bank of Greece and Hungary's OTP Bank were in competition to become the majority owner of the Romania's CEC bank after submitting a bid for a 69.9% stake in the bank, Vladescu said at a news conference Friday. He said that the National Bank of Greece had offered $738 million but said nothing about the offer made by the Hungarian bank.

Established in 1864, CEC has assets under management worth some $1.5 billion and 1,400 branches, many in small towns. It controls about 5% of the Romanian banking market.