ECONOMY

Piraeus confirms absorption of Geniki Bank

The Piraeus Group announced on Friday its acquisition of 99.08 percent of Geniki Bank shares from French lender Societe Generale, which also confirmed the signing of the agreement on Friday.

With the move Piraeus is taking a huge step toward retaining the private character of its group while further strengthening its presence in the domestic market, just three days after the signing of an agreement between another French bank, Credit Agricole, and Alpha Bank for the sale of Emporiki Bank to the Greek lender.

For the completion of Geniki?s sale, Societe Generale will invest funds totaling 444 million euros, out of which 281 million will be provided for the recapitalization of Geniki, in accordance with the requirements of the Bank of Greece. The remaining 163 million euros will go toward acquiring shares in Piraeus Bank. SocGen?s investment will likely grow after the completion of an economic and legal inspection by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund.

Piraeus Bank officials note that Geniki is a fully recapitalized and self-funded lender. Geniki does not receive any interbank funding from SocGen, so there is no obligation for Piraeus to to return any funds invested in the future. The same officials add that this acquisition, in association with the planned investment of 444 million euros, will improve Piraeus?s financial and strategic position and increase its total attractiveness in the context of the forthcoming recapitalization of Greek banks.

By absorbing Geniki, according to March 31 data that include the acquired selected assets of ATEbank, Piraeus is improving its capital adequacy index by 1.2 percentage points and increases its liquidity by over 300 million euros. It also bolsters its chances of covering the funds required for its share capital increase from the private sector, in the context of its recapitalization. It is also taking its Greek market share to 20 percent in deposits and to 17 percent in loans issued. The group?s assets will add up to 77 billion euros.