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EU okays new measures for Slovenia's NLB bank

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU state aid regulators approved on Friday new measures for Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) which includes a pledge by Slovenia to sell at least 50 percent of the country’s largest bank by the end of the year to ensure its viability.

Slovenian authorities offered the concession after the European Commission opened a full-scale investigation in January following a delay in the sale. Slovenia had granted up to 2.32 billion euros (£2.1 billion) in state aid to NLB in recent years.

The EU competition enforcer said the country’s latest measure complied with the bloc’s rules ensuring a level playing field.

“Slovenia has firmly committed to an ambitious time schedule for NLB’s sale with a first sale tranche of at least 50 percent plus one share by the end of 2018,” the Commission said in a statement.

It said Slovenia set out strict deadlines to complete the sale of 75 percent minus one share of NLB by the end of 2019. If it misses the deadline, a trustee will take over the sales process.

NLB will also only be allowed to grant new loans if it receives a minimum return on equity on those loans and not-enter businesses it has sold off as part of its restructuring.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)

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