Citadele sale a good thing, sellers insist

The controversial sale of majority state-owned Citadele bank just before parliamentary elections is a positive thing for Latvia, one of the parties involved in the deal insisted Tuesday.

Philip Bennet, vice president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) which currently owns 25% of the bank and will continue to do so under the terms of the proposed sell-off, said the sales process had been carried out properly.

"We understand that the society is interested in the bank's sell-off story very much. The choice of investors is excellent, they have a long-term development strategy that meets the views of the EBRD and the bank," Bennett said after talks with Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma.

He also said the EBRD was committed to Latvia "in the long term" and planned future investments in the energy sector.

Straujuma again refused to name the price agreed for Citadele, repeating previous assurances that full details would be disclosed when a final agreement is signed in coming days.

However, speaking to journalists later in the day she said the deal was a good one that the investors were "very good."

On September 16 the government announced Citadele would be sold to a group of investors headed by Tim Collins of US private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings.

The decision sparked anger among opposition parties who argue that Citadele should be retained in state ownership and suspect that whatever the agreed sale price turns out to be, it is too low.

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