ECONOMY

IMF rep: Big bank merger never had our blessing

Greece’s creditors had never approved of the merger between National Bank and Eurobank, the International Monetary Fund’s top representative in Greece, Poul Thomsen, claimed late on Friday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the spring meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, Thomsen denied that the Fund and the eurozone had given their blessing to the merger a few months ago, as had been widely reported, saying: “That is not correct. We had never approved, as you say, that transaction. It was a deal between two private entities. From early on we had raised concerns as to whether this transaction would be correct on a policy level. It was clear from the start that these entities would require additional funds from the [European Financial Stability Facility].”

Asked whether Greece’s special consumption tax on heating oil and the value-added tax on food catering could be reduced, the IMF representative responded that these issues will be determined by the fiscal margin and that they are matters of fiscal policy priorities and choices of the government.