ECONOMY

Banco Comercial to seek suitors for Greek subsidiary Millennium

Banco Comercial Portugues SA, Portugal?s second-biggest lender, is seeking buyers for its money-losing Greek unit, three people briefed on the talks have said.

Banco Comercial invited bidders to submit offers for Athens-based Millennium Bank by mid-October, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Eurobank Ergasias SA, Greece?s second-biggest lender, may offer to buy Millennium, the people said.

Overseas lenders are trying to sell their Greek operations to domestic competitors as concern lingers over whether the country will remain in the single European currency.

France?s Credit Agricole SA is in talks to sell Emporiki Bank to Alpha Bank SA and Societe Generale SA has held talks with Piraeus Bank SA about its Geniki Bank SA operation.

Banco Comercial, which raised 500 million euros in a rights offering last month, is bolstering capital and reviewing which businesses it will retain after receiving government aid.

BCP injected about 100 million euros into Millennium in recent weeks in a bid to make the asset more attractive to potential buyers, the people said.

Erik Burns, a spokesman for Banco Comercial Portugues, said the lender?s aim is to reduce its exposure to Greece or access the Greek state?s support mechanisms.

?We are still analyzing all the options,? Burns said.

A spokeswoman for Eurobank and officials at National Bank of Greece declined to comment.

Millennium?s loss widened to 154 million euros last year from 16 million in the previous 12 months, according to its annual report.

The lender has 6.2 billion euros of assets.

It has 199 branches and employed about 1,200 people at the end of 2011, according to the Hellenic Bank Association.

[Bloomberg]