VIENNA, Dec 5 (Reuters) - The foundation that is Austrian lender Erste Group Bank's biggest shareholder has cut its stake to 21.7 percent from 23.6 percent by selling 8.5 million shares to institutional investors in a private placement, it said.
The Erste oesterreichische Spar-Casse Privatstiftung foundation said it sold the shares on Thursday to cut debt. It did not give a price for the placement, which at current prices would be worth around 210 million euros ($285 million).
Erste shares were down 1.0 percent at 24.70 euros by 0946 GMT, while the Stoxx European banking index rose 0.4 percent.
The foundation aims to safeguard the independence of Erste Group Bank and donates part of its income for public projects in the region. ($1 = 0.7377 euros) (Reporting by Angelika Gruber and Michael Shields; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)