ECONOMY

National-Eurobank to woo investors

National and Eurobank Ergasias, the two systemic Greek lenders that are about to merge into one, presented a slightly improved picture in the last quarter of 2012 according to financial results released on Wednesday for last year, while revealing investor interest in their recapitalization.

“There is indeed investment interest in the expanded group of National Bank from international investors for the possibility of participation in the recapitalization,” Alexandros Tourkolias, the chief executive officer of Greece’s biggest lender, confirmed during the presentation of the group’s results.

In an ensuing teleconference with foreign investors, Tourkolias noted that the merger with Eurobank will take place in a less ominous climate, after the first signs of conditions reverting to normal in Greece began emerging in the fourth quarter of 2012.

National’s board intends to meet as soon as possible to call a general shareholders meeting for the share capital increase in the context of the recapitalization process. The lender will also proceed to the buyout of negotiable instruments amounting to 1.2 billion euros, in line with European Commission guidelines. National officials stress there will only be a single capital increase to cover the whole of the new group’s requirements.

Regarding the 2012 results, both National and Eurobank sustained losses, although these were not as big as those recorded in 2011, which had included the Greek bonds restructured in March 2012. The latter half of 2012 also showed a significantly improved picture for both banks.

National posted losses of 2.14 billion euros compared to 12.3 billion in 2011, as losses in Greece amounting to over 2.7 billion were somewhat offset by the profits from Turkish subsidiary Finansbank, which came to 668 million euros. Bad loans came to 19 percent, but National stressed that in Q4 the rate of new nonperforming loan (NPLs) creation was cut in half.

Eurobank registered losses of 1.45 billion, from 5.5 billion in 2011, and NPLs reached 22.4 percent, again with a significant slowdown in the latter half of the year.