National Bank bids to control Romaneasca

Greece’s largest bank, National Bank, said on Tuesday that talks to acquire a controlling stake in Romania’s Romaneasca Banca were at an advanced stage. «We are in the process of conducting exclusive due diligence for Romaneasca Banca,» Agis Leopoulos, general manager of international activities at National, told Reuters. National signaled its intention to take over the Romanian bank earlier this year as part of its drive to expand into Southeastern Europe and boost its presence in Romania. A banking industry source told Reuters yesterday a deal was likely in May or June if National decided to go ahead with the takeover. Romaneasca Banca, now majority-owned by the Romania American Enterprise Fund, has assets of around $125 million and a network of 26 branches. National Bank, which has been operating one branch in central Bucharest since 1997, said last month it would set up 15 new branches in the country’s main cities. (Reuters)