BUSINESS

Geniki deal expected next week

Piraeus Bank and Societe Generale reportedly close to agreement By Yiannis Papadoyiannis

The deal between French credit group Societe Generale and Greek lender Piraeus Bank for the transfer of Geniki Bank is set to be completed by next week, Kathimerini understands, while the sector is eagerly anticipating a decision from Credit Agricole regarding the sale of its Greek subsidiary, Emporiki Bank, also expected to emerge next week or soon thereafter.

Sources say that talks between Piraeus and SocGen are at an advanced stage and that it?s only a matter of time before an agreement is reached. Geniki has assets of 2.9 billion euros, loans of 2.4 billion (after provisions) and deposits of 1.9 billion, making it a significant force in the local credit sector.

The purchase of Geniki will boost Piraeus?s presence in the market significantly, following its incorporation of the healthy part of ATEbank a few weeks ago. Geniki has more than 100 branches across the country and employs some 1,600 people.

Also next week, or some time soon afterward, bank officials expect to hear the crucial verdict by French group Credit Agricole regarding the fate of Emporiki, which has three suitors: National Bank, Alpha and Eurobank. The decision will affect the next moves in the local credit sector to a great extent, and particularly as far as the acquisition of state-run Hellenic Postbank is concerned.

Emporiki?s case is seen as an unorthodox transaction, which along with the absence of experience in such cases will mean more time is required. Certain terms that the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) has set are also creating some problems. The fund has asked for additional capital guarantees for Emporiki, and to manage the cash that the French group has put aside for its Greek subsidiary.

The market considers the transaction unusual as the fund has asked Credit Agricole to strengthen the capital base of the bank it is going to transfer, and a number of technical issues will need to be resolved first.

The bank that wins the tender to land Emporiki will likely back off from Hellenic Postbank, with the other two suitors set to fight it out for the last prized asset available in the local market.

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