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White & Case Involved in Largest Czech Public Tender Offer Ever

Prague, October 1, 2002 ... White & Case represented Die Erste öesterreichischen Spar-Casse Anteilsverwaltungssparkasse (AVS), the parent company of the Austria-based Erste Bank in the largest public tender offer ever in the Czech Republic, and the subsequent listing of Erste Bank on the Prague Stock Exchange. Erste Bank’s shares were traded for the first time today.

As well as being the largest public tender offer in the Czech Republic, the deal is the first listing on the Prague Stock Exchange since 1996 and the first security placement of a foreign company on the Czech capital market.

The public tender offer was made for the shares of Ceska sporitelna a.s. (CS), one of the largest Czech banks, initially privatised by Erste Bank in 1999. Erste Bank delisted CS shares from the Prague Stock Exchange at the end of July, with the objective of replacing them with its own shares at the beginning of October.

A voluntary offer was followed by a mandatory tender offer, leading to AVS acquiring shares with the total value of almost EUR700m and holding, together with Erste Bank, 94.6% of Ceska sporitelna.

"This was a landmark transaction," commented lead partner Mike Dlouhy. "Our previous experience developed in capital market transactions in the region was essential to delivering a first-rate service to our client. The results of the tender offer were by no means assured, but they exceeded expectations in all respects, making this the most significant capital markets transaction of the year."

Partner Mike Dlouhy led the White & Case team acting for AVS with Prague associates Petr Kuhn, Josef Otcenasek and Richard Furey.

Michal Dlouhy
Michal has played a key role in most of the significant M&A transactions handled by the Prague office, including the first SEC-registered Yankee bond out of the Czech Republic; the first global bond by a Central European sovereign and the first Euro-dominated bond issue by a Czech issuer. He is also Chairman of the Board of Appeals of the Czech Securities Commission.

Founded on October 4, 1819 as Verein der Ersten österreichischen Spar-Casse, Erste Bank is Austria’s oldest commercial and savings bank. In recent years, Erste Bank has targeted Central and Eastern Europe as its extended home market, and now operates an extensive branch network in Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Hungary, as well as having branches in the world’s leading financial centres, Hong Kong, London and New York. With more than 10 million customers, Erste Bank is the leading retail bank in Central Europe.

White & Case, Central and Eastern Europe
With well over 100 lawyers, White & Case has one of the largest and most highly regarded practices in Central & Eastern Europe and the CIS. We are consistently rated amongst the top 3 law firms in the region with particularly strong practices in Prague, Warsaw, Budapest and Moscow. White & Case has been active in Central and Eastern Europe since 1990 and our merger with Feddersen Laule in 2000 consolidated our position in the region. In June 2002 the firm was named Eastern Europe Law Firm of the Year by a leading, global legal benchmark publication.

White & Case, The Global Law Firm
White & Case is a global law firm with 1600 lawyers in 40 offices across 27 countries. In two years the firm has doubled the size of its corporate and finance law operations in Europe and in total now has 680 lawyers in the region. In the last twelve months we were named Global Law Firm of the Year, independently placed in the Top Five Global Law Firms and named Best US Law Firm in London.

Contact: Kate Hinze
PR Manager, EMEA
on 44 20 7397 3656