Athens, Brussels dismiss ATEbank report

The Finance Ministry in Athens and the European Commission in Brussels rushed on Friday to dismiss a Reuters report that spoke on Thursday of pressure by the European Union for the shutdown of state-owned ATEbank.

The ministry made it clear that the report has nothing to do with reality as the lender, Greece?s fifth-biggest, is following a restructuring program submitted to Brussels. The plan provides for ATEbank to shrink by at least 25 percent until the end of 2013.

The Commission?s dismissal was far less emphatic. Spokesman Amadeu Altafaj told reporters in Brussels that the Commission is not putting pressure on Greek banks, adding that ?there is no pressure for the wind-down of any specific banks at the moment. If ATEbank proves not to be viable, we will not approve of any additional state aid and it will enter liquidation process.?

The statement by Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani was more equivocal. Colombani told the daily press briefing yesterday that ?winding down and orderly resolution is always a possibility for any bank receiving state aid.?

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