NLB, Slovenia’s largest international financial group, has agreed to sell 100% of its Macedonian pension business to Slovenian insurer and pensions provider Sava Re.

The sale of NLB Nov penziski fond is subject to regulatory approval.

NLB Nov penziski fond is one of the two pension fund companies, both Slovenian, licensed as of 2005 to offer mandatory and voluntary pension funds in Macedonia, with 51% of the shares owned by Ljubljana-based Nova Ljubljanska Banka, and the remainder by the group’s Macedonian subsidiary NLB Banka Skopje.

NLB’s mandatory and voluntary Macedonian funds have more than €430m in assets under management, and a market share of around 46%.

On NLB’s website, Blaž Brodnjak, president of the management board, said: “Our exit from the ownership of the NLB Nov penziski fond does not in any way imply that we are exiting the Republic of Macedonia.

“On the contrary, NLB Banka Skopje remains a strategic member of the NLB Group, where we see a lot of potential for upgrading business both in the retail as well as corporate sector.”

Antonio Argir, president of the management board of NLB Banka AD Skopje, added that his bank would continue to collaborate with the new owner after the sale through its sales channels.

For Sava Re, the acquisition expands its financial operations in Macedonia beyond its existing insurance businesses.

For state-owned NLB the sale of its Macedonian pensions business, which was announced this March, is part of a series of non-core asset disposals ahead of its privatisation as agreed earlier with the European Commission.

The deal was struck in return for the EC approving state aid to NLB in 2013.

In June the Slovenian government abandoned an IPO for 50% of the bank, initially set for the end of this year, following a lower than expected valuation, and has now requested postponing the sale until the end of 2020.