National Bank of Greece plans senior unsecured bond sale

National Bank of Greece SA is planning to sell senior bonds after the government last week returned to capital markets after a four-year exile.

The sale will take place after investor calls and a presentation in London next week, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified before the deal is completed. It follows Piraeus Bank SA, which last month held the first public sale of debt by a Greek financial company since 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Greek banks have been raising funds in debt and equity markets before examinations of their loan books by the European Central Bank later this year. The government, which carried out the world’s biggest sovereign-debt restructuring in 2012, raised 3 billion euros ($4.2 billion) from international investors.

“The Greek banks are benefiting from a mixture of improved sentiment toward the sovereign and the rights issues they’ve done,” said Robert Montague, a credit analyst at ECM Asset Management Ltd. in London. ECM manages about $9.5 billion of assets.

Dimitris Spyropoulos, a spokesman in Athens for National Bank, wasn’t immediately available to comment.

The lender plans a 2.5 billion-euro stock issue that will bring its core Tier 1 ratio to 18.2 percent of assets weighted by risk and it will boost capital by another 1 billion euros with other actions, according to a statement yesterday.

The sovereign issue has helped establish a benchmark for Greek corporate issuance. The government bonds were priced at 99.13 cents on the euro to yield 4.95 percent, or 436 basis points more than German government debt. The yield has has since declined to 4.83 percent, according to prices on Bloomberg.

Piraeus Bank issued 500 million euros of three-year, 5 percent bonds that were priced to yield 5.125 percent on March 18. The securities now yield 3.59 percent. [Bloomberg]