ECONOMY

Alpha close to sealing deal for Emporiki

Alpha Bank SA, Greece?s third-largest lender, is close to an agreement to buy Credit Agricole SA?s Athens-based Emporiki Bank unit, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.

The banks may reach an agreement as soon as Wednesday, said the people, who asked not to be identified before an official announcement.

Greece?s Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) approved the sale on Friday, paving the way for the transaction, one person said.

Officials for Alpha Bank in Athens and Credit Agricole, based outside Paris, declined to comment.

Credit Agricole, trying to limit its potential costs tied to a Greek exit from the euro, plans to sell the unit for a token price of 1 euro, the bank said when it announced exclusive talks on October 1.

Credit Agricole said it would inject a further 550 million euros into the firm, bringing the total the French bank has contributed since July to 2.85 billion euros.

It also said it would buy 150 million euros of convertible bonds issued by Alpha Bank.

Credit Agricole shares have gained 19 percent since the bank entered exclusive talks with Alpha, while Alpha has risen 23 percent.

[Bloomberg]