ECONOMY

Alpha admits it has bid for Emporiki

Alpha Bank SA, the country?s third-largest lender, filed an offer to acquire Emporiki Bank SA, Credit Agricole?s Greek unit, in the latest step toward a restructuring of the country?s banking industry.

Alpha ?filed an offer with Credit Agricole for the purchase of shares representing the entire share capital of Emporiki Bank,? the Athens-based lender said in a statement on Tuesday. Alpha denied an earlier report in Greek newspaper Imerisia that it was close to completing the deal.

Greece has been told to overhaul its banks after lenders sustained losses on their holdings of Greek government bonds in the country?s debt swap, the biggest sovereign restructuring in history. The country obtained a 130 billion-euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund in March, which earmarked 50 billion euros for recapitalizing the banks.

Alpha is the second bank to publicly express interest in Emporiki. Eurobank EFG Deputy Chief Executive Officer Michalis Colakides said last week that the Greek lender also plans to bid for the Agricole unit.

Piraeus Bank SA, Greece?s fourth-biggest lender, agreed on Friday to acquire Agricultural Bank of Greece SA (ATEbank) for 95 million euros, in a transaction that will push Eurobank and Alpha down the list of Greece?s biggest banks. With assets of 74 billion euros, Piraeus now says it is the country?s second-largest by assets, behind National Bank of Greece SA. [Bloomberg]