Greece to sell ailing ATEbank, official says

Greece has ended months of uncertainty over cash-strapped lender ATEbank by deciding to sell the state-controlled bank, a finance ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The government owns a 70 percent stake in ATEbank and the country’s international lenders have demanded it restructure the ailing lender so that the state avoids pumping in more money.

The official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said that the decision was made late on Tuesday during a meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and central bank chief George Provopoulos.

“The issue will be discussed with the heads of the troika as well,» the official said, referring to the trio of European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank officials who are in Athens this week for an inspection visit.

ATEbank declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Piraeus Bank, Greece’s fifth-largest lender, confirmed this month that it was interested in buying its rival. National Bank and Eurobank are also expected to declare an interest.

ATEbank failed a European stress test last year and has not published its 2011 results while it awaits a final decision on its future. It is estimated that the bank requires a capital injection of as much as 5 billion euros ($6.04 billion) to continue operating.


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