AnaCap takes on Polish bank

The financial services specialist picked up FM Bank after Polish regulators forced Abris Capital to sell

UK-based AnaCap Financial Partners has agreed to acquire Polish retail and SME bank FM Bank after its previous owner, Abris Capital Partners, was forced to sell.

According to a statement from the specialist financial services firm, AnaCap’s funds will acquire 100 percent of the bank for an undisclosed sum, subject to approval by Poland’s financial watchdog, KNF, and other customary approvals.

AnaCap did not respond to a request for comment at press time.

FM Bank was created in 2013 through the merger of two Abris-owned banks, Polski Bank Przedsiebiorczosci and FM Bank, and today operates under two brands, Bank SMART for mobile banking services and BIZ Bank for micro SMEs and corporates. FM Bank operates 50 branches across Poland, with a PLN 1.8 billion (€444 million; $500 million) net loan book and PLN 2.7 billion (€666 million; $751 million) of customer deposits.

Last year KNF ruled that Abris failed to meet its commitments as an investor by failing to consult with the regulator on the choice of the chief executive for the new bank, as it is required to do. KNF stripped the fund of its voting rights in the bank and ordered it to sell the business by 30 April 2015.

Abris disputed the claim of wrongdoing, saying it followed Polish law and applied for the approval of Slawomir Lachowski, and he was eventually approved by KNF as the bank's CEO. In November 2014 the firm said it was suing the Polish government for PLN 2 billion (€478 million; $597 million), alleging it would incur losses through a forced sale.

Abris was unavailable for comment at press time.

AnaCap managing director George Koulouris described FM Bank as “an established and scalable platform within one of the strongest banking markets in the EU in terms of resilience, profitability and growth potential”.

Koulouris added that the firm would look to accelerate the growth of the business “with a particular emphasis on the micro/SME and consumer sectors, leveraging a cutting-edge mobile banking platform”.

FM Bank will become AnaCap’s fourth portfolio company in the banking sector, alongside Aldermore, which floated on the London Stock Exchange in February and reportedly netted the firm around £150 million (€204 million; $229 million), Equa Bank in the Czech Republic, and Mediterranean Bank in Malta.

AnaCap is currently in market with its third fund, which is targeting €900 million. The vehicle came to market in early 2014 and held a first close on €500 million in June. Placement agent Asante Capital is understood to be helping the firm with the fundraise.