Portugal: Buyer of Banif unit testifies to parliamentary inquiry in confidence

Page created: Wednesday, 25 May 2016 8:57 GMT

Apollo Global Management  Banif

Lisbon, May 24 (Lusa) – A representative of US investment firm Apollo Global Management, Gustavo Guimarães, was on Tuesday afternoon being heard behind closed doors by the parliamentary committee of inquiry into the fire sale last year of Banif, a troubled bank taken over by the Portuguese state, after he cited a need for confidentiality for his testimony.

Apollo was among companies that had expressed interest in buying Banif and in order to “maintain the confidentiality” of elements of its bid and so that his testimony could be “free and enlightening”, Guimarães asked to be heard in camera – a request that the political parties represented on the committee accepted.

Gernot Lohr, who oversees Apollo’s investments in the financial sector was also called to testify but was said to have delegated to Guimarães the task of passing on relevant information to the committee.

On Monday the European Commission approved Apollo’s purchase of Açoreana Seguros, an insurance company that was formerly part of Banif, after concluding that the operation did not give rise to competition concerns.

On 31 December Açoreana had 7,173,244,609 shares in Banif, acquired at an average price of €0.01 euros, for a total value of €71,700,000. This stake in the bank was, however, in its books at a value of just €40,887,000.

Late on 20 December, a Sunday, the government and the Bank of Portugal announced the resolution of Banif, with the sale of part of its banking operations to Spain’s Santander Totta, for €150 million, and the transfer of its other assets including ‘toxic’ assets – with a value far inferior to their book value – to a new company called Oitante. Açoreana was also shunted into this new company.