Credit Agricole says Emporiki sale talks ‘very advanced’

Talks to sell Credit Agricole’s Greek bank Emporiki are likely to be completed in the next few weeks, the French bank’s chief executive said in a radio interview on Thursday.

“We’re in very advanced talks with buyers who have made firm offers,» Jean-Paul Chifflet said on RTL radio, adding that the purchase price could be a symbolic one euro depending on the amount of capital Credit Agricole has to put into the bank.

Asked about the timing of the deal, he said, «In a few weeks.”

Chifflet was not asked about a media report earlier this week that the bank may have to boost Emporiki’s capital by an extra 600 to 700 million euros before selling it.

The French lender, which is trying to exit Greece after the country’s banks were hammered by the sovereign debt crisis and economic slump, has already injected billions of euros into the unit.

Chifflet also reiterated in the interview the French banking industry’s opposition to government plans to raise the ceiling on how much consumers can pay into their tax-free «Livret A» savings accounts since the deposits are partly channeled to state bank Caisse des Depots for use in housing and other public investments.

“This will hurt our ability to finance the real economy,» said Chifflet, who is also the head of the French Banking Federation. [Reuters]

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