ECONOMY

J.P. Morgan due to recommend ETBA bid winner on Monday

The J.P. Morgan firm of consultants is due to officially hand Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Monday morning its recommendations on the sale of the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA), and an evaluation of the two bids submitted by the Agricultural Bank (ATE) and Piraeus Bank. It will also hold a briefing session for the two candidates. J.P. Morgan was initially due to submit its recommendation on Thursday. Market sources said the presentation was delayed because it coincided with the ruling PASOK party’s congress, but government officials insisted it was due to the need to consider the two bids in greater detail. Christodoulakis and National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou are said to have already been briefed on the results of the tender. According to other sources, ATE – also a state-owned firm – expresses interest in a stake of more than 60 percent in ETBA, of which it is said at least 40 percent will be paid in cash, and the rest through an exchange of share blocks after an ATE share capital increase. The Piraeus Bank bid envisages the acquisition of 50.1 percent of ETBA in cash and an exchange of share blocks in a merger scheme later. The same government officials said the two bidders had been briefed that the basic requirement was that their offers exceed ETBA’s net worth. The bank on Thursday finalized the shedding of its 51-percent holding in Hellenic Shipyards, which had been a stumbling block to its own privatization. The holding was acquired by Germany’s HDW-Ferrostaal. The figures showed that the contract segment is close to saturation, which will spur competition to shift to the prepaid sector. This goes against the European trend where competition is greater in the contract market, he argued.