Bids for ETBA are revealed, decision ‘in coming days’

The government officially announced yesterday the two bids for the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA) but not the winning bidders, saying it needed time to evaluate the bids and make final decisions in the coming days. State-owned Agricultural Bank of Greece offered a total of 231.2 billion drachmas (678.5 million euros) for the state’s 65.56 percent stake. It offered to pay 144.9 billion in cash for 41.1 percent of ETBA – 5.98 euros per share – and 86.3 billion through 12-month share convertible certificates. Rival Piraeus bank offered 126.78 billion drachmas – 4.3 euros per share – for 50.000078 percent of ETBA and a share swap of 4.17 Piraeus shares for every 10 ETBA shares. In this case, the state will acquire about 6 percent of Piraeus, and Agricultural, which owns slightly under 10 percent of ETBA, would acquire about 2 percent of Piraeus. National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis hold different opinions on ETBA’s sale. Papantoniou favors the best bidder, Agricultural, while Christodoulakis prefers the sale to a privately-owned bank to a sham privatization. The decision is Papantoniou’s to take, but Christodoulakis is favored to replace Papantoniou in next week’s Cabinet reshuffle. Earlier this year Egypt reached agreement with Jordan, Lebanon and Syria on building a pipeline to supply them with gas.

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