ECONOMY

Mood on Athens bourse boosted by merger talk

The Athens bourse may move higher on Monday with investors betting on a new round of takeover activity taking place in the bank sector after National Bank (NBG) offered to merge with rival Alpha.

The Athens bourse?s benchmark general index jumped more than 3 percent on Friday to 1,715.13 points, a six-month high, boosted by a 7 percent rally in banks.

NBG surprised the market on Friday when it announced that it offered Alpha Bank shareholders a 23 percent premium to create Greece?s largest lender ?with the strongest capital base, leading position in southeastern Europe and international recognition? via an 8-for-11 share swap.

Alpha turned down the offer, citing terms that are not beneficial to its shareholders, but market experts expect NBG to come back with a new proposal.

?Talk of a new national leader being formed is likely to force other banks into action,? said a broker.

Friday?s gains came on the back of a jump on daily turnover to 192 million euros, from 130 million euros on Thursday, indicating the start of a short-term upward cycle, brokers added.

Investors will also be keeping an eye out this week for earnings figures, with blue chips Eurobank EFG and OTE telecom, among those scheduled to report.