By Yiannis Papadoyiannis
The clock is ticking ahead of the Sunday deadline that French group Credit Agricole has to choose one of the bids by National Bank, Alpha Bank and Eurobank Ergasias for the acquisition of its local subsidiary Emporiki.
Kathimerini understands that Credit Agricole’s governing board will have convened to ratify the decision and announce the transaction by the end of the week.
Bank officials are optimistic that the decision will be made public by Sunday, although a postponement until next week cannot be ruled out yet. “The French are effectively those who are putting the money in, and whoever provides the money is the one who makes the rules,” a senior bank official said, in reference to the fact that Greek authorities have forced Credit Agricole to recapitalize Emporiki with 2.5-3 billion euros before it can be sold.
The procedure has dragged on despite original expectations for its completion by the end of August. The delays generated a sense that the French were having second thoughts, but that does not seem to be the case as Credit Agricole has announced and formally committed itself to the transaction. After the French group’s announcement in the summer that it was planning to depart Greece, its stocks registered significant gains.
According to bank officials, had the French gone back on their decision, that would have dealt a blow to the reputation and reliability of the French bank, to say nothing of the legal implications. They attribute the delay to the uncertainty caused by the Greek authorities’ changing demands. On September 14 the three domestic lenders submitted fresh bids to adjust their offers to the authorities’ new requirements.
Analysts stress that two factors will determine the choice of buyer for Emporiki: The first is the guarantees that local lenders are providing for the funding line by the French group to its Greek subsidiary, and the second is the synergies that can be created, which is also the focus of Greek authorities, as well as the European Commission, which will need to rubber-stamp the transaction.